Army Denies Vandalising BRT Buses, Blames Hoodlums
Five days after a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) allegedly crushed a lance corporal of the Nigerian Army (NA) to death, with its attendant mayhem, in Lagos State, the 81 Division Headquarters in the state tuesday debunked the allegations that soldiers were responsible for vandalising the state-owned commercial buses.
The army had in a statement blamed hoodlums, which it accused of hijacking the tense moment to set more than five BRT buses ablaze before order was restored.
The Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, Lieutenant Colonel Omale Ochagwuba, in a statement made available to THISDAY said: “The attention of 81 Division Headquarters of the Nigerian Army has been drawn to allegations and accusations making the rounds and being bandied by some media organisations that soldiers attacked and vandalised BRT buses which is totally untrue.
“To set the records straight, on July 4, a lance corporal of the Nigerian Army, who was on his way to office on Ikorodu road around Obanikoro area between 6:30 to 6:45a.m. was knocked down and killed by a BRT bus with registration number KSF 995 XJ.
“It is pertinent to state here that the late soldier was riding a power bike approved by the state government and he was neither riding in a BRT lane nor was the BRT bus that killed him driving in the BRT lane.
“The innocent law abiding soldier was killed on the normal lane being plied by everybody as against what is being alleged by some sections of the media. The soldier was hit from the rear and killed instantly.
“As stated earlier in our statement, the mayhem that was visited on the BRT buses was the handiwork of hoodlums who seized the opportunity of the tragic situation to vent their anger on the buses for reasons best known to them. We know the peculiar nature of Lagos where miscreants always take advantage of situations like this to cause havoc.
“In a situation like this, people are bound to wrongfully accuse soldiers because they were seen around the offending bus which was not even attacked. With careful analysis of the incident, one will observe that the BRT buses vandalised were far removed from the scene of the accident.”
Ochagwuba added: “It is pertinent to once more remind the good people of Lagos that the BRT bus in question that killed the soldier and triggered the tragic consequences was neither vandalised nor burnt.
“It was the same soldiers who are being wrongfully accused of burning buses and causing mayhem, which is not true, were the ones that secured the BRT bus and protected it from hoodlums before it was later towed into the barracks for safety and also prevented the hoodlums from causing further mayhem on the road and cleared the route for traffic to flow.
“We have pictures of the bus at the scene of the accident and while it was being towed away to safety. The bus in question has since been released to the BRT management.
“The question begging for answer now is, why is the bus itself that killed the soldier custody was already in soldiers hands not vandalised or burnt? Is it not logical that it should have been the first target of their anger as alleged?”
He said: “ These are hard times for Nigerians and all hands should be on deck to bring peace to the country rather than inflame passion. The state government which is supposed to be the most aggrieved party did not jump into conclusion.
“The Lagos State Government said they are investigating. That is a matured way of handling situation rather than reacting on public opinion.
“In a situation where a respected elder statesman will stand up in a public function and based on hearsay call a respected professional organisation like the NA, which is one of the major pillars of democracy and fighting to keep the country together, as mad is unfortunate and unbecoming of an elder statesman of his calibre who is suppose to be the bastion of decorum.”
“In less than a week, he has made two careless offensive statements. At times, he seems to speak before weighing the consequences of his statement. The NA is a professional force which is law abiding like any other citizen.
“The military is a highly disciplined organisation which also takes necessary steps to see that its erring members are brought to book at any time the need arises to enforce discipline.”