Lagos police, FERMA task force men clash

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SURE-P/FERMA Task Force officials arrested by the police in Lagos... on Wednesday.
There was pandemonium on Wednesday as policemen attached to the Lagos State Taskforce on Environmental and Special Offences (Enforcement) Unit and officials of the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme/ Federal Road Maintenance Agency Task Force clashed in the Toll Gate area of the state.
Over 200 FERMA task force officials were arrested and clamped in three Black Marias brought by the police into the camp of the federal workers.
PUNCH Metro, who witnessed the event as it unfolded, noted that at about 10.15am, the state task force, led by the Chairman of the state task force, Bayo Sulaiman, a Chief Superintendent of Police, stormed the FERMA task force camp.

The policemen fired two tear gas canisters into the camp and followed them with gun shots.
The action created confusion in the camp, making it easy for the policemen to arrest some workers constructing a fence in the camp as others took to their heels.
Some of the federal officers, however, launched a reprisal by throwing stones and bottles at the policemen.
The state taskforce men responded by firing another round of tear gas canisters that sent everyone scurrying for safety.
Commuters on the Ketu Ikosi Road, were forced to change direction while the bombardment lasted.
A few of the FERMA task force men were seen changing into muftis to avoid being arrested.
PUNCH Metro gathered that the crisis was caused when the driver of a Sienna vehicle, Timothy Uko, earlier arrested for a traffic offence in Ketu, drove into the FERMA camp at the Toll Gate area and was shielded from arrest.
One of the witnesses, who pleaded anonymity, said, “The Lagos State Traffic Management Authority officials arrested the man for driving on BRT lane. They handed him over to the task force men.
‘When he drove into the FERMA camp, they were prevented from taking him away. The policemen called for reinforcement.”
A policeman attached to the task force, however, told our correspondent that the FERMA men also beat up the policemen that were escorting the driver to Alausa.
He said, “The FERMA taskforce officials attacked the policemen with planks and bottles, inflicting injuries on them.”
A FERMA task force official, who identified himself simply as Savage, described the incident as frightening.
Savage, a graduate of the Lagos State University, said, “I joined the federal force because I needed a job. The form was free, but the uniform was sold for N35, 000. We have been training and preparing, but with this attack, I don’t think I want to continue.”
In his reaction, Sulaiman said, “They beat up our men and held them hostage. We will not allow them to take over our function. We arrested over 100 of them. If we allow this to go unchecked, it will be worse next time.”
The driver of the Sienna bus said he did not know any FERMA task force official, but decided to drive into the camp to beg the policemen who arrested him.
Uko, who was beaten up by the police for causing the crisis, was also arrested.
Some of the federal task force officials, however, said those that attacked the policemen had fled and only the innocent ones were being held.
But the National Publicity Director of SURE-P/FERMA Task Force, Mr. Olawale Oyeboh, described the attack as an invasion by “LASTMA, police and suspected thugs of the All Progressives Congress”, the ruling party in the state, adding that it was a continuation of the manner the state greeted the introduction of the federal task force.
Oyeboh said, “The aggression was planned, they came fully prepared. Before we knew what was happening, policemen had started firing into the air, while others fired tear-gas canisters into our compound, giving way for the thugs to loot our office.”
He added that property worth several millions were destroyed, while the task force lost about N20m to the looters, saying, “The money was meant to pay some officials of the task force.”
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