The driver of a sales van belonging to Euro Mega Atlantic Company, Ikeja, Lagos, on Wednesday escaped death when his vehicle fell on its side on the Ijora/Orile overhead bridge, close to the National Theatre, Iganmu.
Newsmen report that the accident caused traffic jam, compelling vehicles to drive against the traffic.
Newsmen report that the driver of the van was dragged out of the van by policemen who were attempted to extort money from him.
The policemen, however, ran away from the scene when the uncontrolled vehicle rolled down the bridge and fell on its side, spilling the oil in the engine, while some of its parts were damaged.
Mr Folarin Omolola, the driver of the Isuzu van with registration number SMK 852 XN, told newsmen that he was suddenly stopped by a policeman wearing a name tag “Sunday Ayemi’’.
Omolola said that the policeman immediately forced him out of vehicle that the engine was running as he demanded for N5,000 for no reason.
The driver noted that it was at this point that the vehicles started rolling down the bridge, while policeman and his colleagues disappeared from the scene.
“Immediately, I started to run after the moving vehicle but could not do much until the vehicle fell on the bridge. It was God that saved me, the vehicle would have fallen off the bridge if not for the Kerb.
“We were on our way going back to our office and the policeman said because we have taken one way I must come down to pay N5,000 if not, the van would be impounded.
“I didn’t have N5,000; so as I was negotiating with him somebody alerted me that the van was moving and as I ran down to stop the vehicle, I could not because of the slope.
“I did my best but it was too late, the tyres climbed the kerbs and the van tumbled, it is God that saved my life,’’ he said.
His partner, who was panting and gasping for breath simply said: “I can’t talk now, it is the Police; Ah!, thank God. Talk to the driver’’.
Some miscreants popularly called “Area Boys’’, who gathered at the scene to sympathise with the salesmen cursed the police force.
A Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps official, who did not want to be mentioned, told newsmen the Police officer in question ran away after the incident.
The official explained that the police made the turn toward Orile illegal for only those coming from Orile and exempted those coming from Apapa.
“The one way is not legal, if you are coming from Orile, they placed an illegal no `U turn’ sign there to extort motorists,’’ the official said.
Meanwhile, motorists using the bridge said the activities of policemen and officers of the Lagos State Transport Management Agency (LASTMA) along the route had become worrisome.
The motorists, who spoke to NAN said the security officers on the route were corrupt and there activities were synonymous to that of miscreants.
Mr Niyi Olabisi, a car owner and user of the route described his experience with a police officer on the bridge as embarrassing to the Nigeria Police Force and Nigeria as a country.
“I was passing through the National Theatre Bridge, heading to Ijora and at the junction, I saw a LASTMA officer and confirmed from him if I could pass through, and he said yes.
“As I negotiated to the other side of the road linking Ijora, a police officer stopped me that the road was one way and that I have committed an offence.
“I tried to explain to him that I was directed by the LASTMA official on the other side but before I knew it, he hopped into the car on motion.
“He claimed that I did not want to stop; the policeman started struggling over the wheels with me to an extent that we almost had an accident before others intervened when I raised an alarm,’’ he said.
Olabisi said his car developed some technical fault as a result of the action by the policeman and he had to spend so much money to fix it.
He said he was surprised to hear that the route was one-way because he had been passing through there before the ugly experience.
According to him, there was need for a sign post notifying motorists of one-way routes, among other road signs so that they would not be cheated by security officials.
Another road user, Mr Samuel Adeniyi, said that when he was stopped on the road by LASTMA officers who claimed he passed through one-way, the officers demanded for N20,000 as fine.
Adeniyi said that it was after much plea and an hour delay that he had to give them N3,000 just to let him go.
“From my investigation, other motorist say they now use the route to make money for themselves by arresting vehicles for offences they did not commit.
“If the road is actually one-way, then the officers should arrest an offender and lead him or her to their office to pay the fine,’’ he said.
A commercial driver, Mr Sylvanus Gabriel, narrating his ordeal on the route, said he was arrested and molested by LASTMA officers for no reason.
Gabriel called on the heads of the two security agencies to as a matter of urgency change the officers stationed on the route and also checkmate their activities through patrol or monitoring teams. “They may end up hurting someone or even cause death if they are not cautioned on time against threatening people with arms,’’ he said.