Lagosians ran for safety Thursday morning at the Obalende area of Lagos State, Southwest Nigeria after hoodlums believed to be members of two factions of transport union known as the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) engaged in a gun battle.
On their way to their respective businesses, people were seen scampering for safety on an overhead bridge in a viral social media video.
Reports on social media said the altercation started at about 8 am leaving several residents, motorists, and commuters abandoning their properties, running for their lives.
Several properties were also reported to have been vandalised in the area.
Authorities in Lagos State have not issued any official statement on the altercation. It was not clear what caused the gunfight, and no one could say whether there was any casualty after the incident.
When contacted for comments, Muyiwa Adejobi, Lagos Police Public Relations Officer told Humangle “we are having a meeting, and we will update you later.”
While it was unclear what led to the clash, people have taken to social media to tie this morning’s gun battle to the planned #OccupyLekkiTollgate protest.
“When the government decided to give thuggery legitimacy because it wanted to attack citizens who were simply demanding that they should be allowed to live, the government did not realise the consequences of their action, especially just after a pandemic induced lockdown. Obalende is,”, Aisha Yusuf, human rights activist wrote on Twitter in response to the incident.
“Good morning, people. I’m not sure what’s going on in Obalende, but please be safe if you are around that axis. In fact, anywhere you are or you are going to, just be safe”, Debo Macaroni, ace comedian, wrote.
“What is happening in Obalende right now is a direct indictment on the Sanwoolu led administration and it justifies our claim that Lagos isn’t secure for the average Lagosians. The fear of thugs to rub you in daylight and fear of getting hit by stray bullets is now a thing in Lagos,” Sodiq Tade said.
“Obalende shooting is intentional. A reason a put security on the street and call a curfew so no protest holds on Saturday,” the Ghostwriter said.
A Union With A History Of Violence
A union with an amorphous structure, the NURTW oversees all bus (danfo) drivers, commercial motorcycle drivers, and tricycle drivers in the state. It draws membership from people who are not drivers, but rather motor park attendants.
Its members generate money on the street and disburse it into union leaders’ pockets due to the union’s informal structure and the government’s financial relations.
This has often led to a supremacy war between members and commercial drivers, with record violent clashes leading to death in the state.
In January 2019, clashes between rival groups left four people dead, and many others injured at Idumagbo, Lagos Island, according to a Premium Times report.
One person was reportedly killed after two factional members of the NURTW clashed over ticket fee collection at Idumota, Lagos Island, in July 2020.
The clashes have long spurred a national discussion as many fear the threat may become full-blown.
In Oyo State, another southwestern State, Seyi Makinde, the governor of the state had banned NURTW “to maintain peace and tranquillity in the state in order to engender commercial and human development” following “alleged security breaches and factional clashes of the union member in some areas of Ibadan, the state capital.”
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