The Petrol Tanker Drivers’ branch of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) is calling for justice over the gruesome murder of their colleague, Olalekan Lawal, who was recently murdered by a trigger-happy security agent for refusing to part with N500.
Lawal, a native of Ibadan in Oyo State, father of three and last born of his parents was driving a tanker with vehicle registration number LSR 724SJ, when he became another unfortunate victim of Nigeria’s law enforcement agents’ killer bullet.
According to the National Public Relations Officer, Petrol Tankers Driver Branch of NUPENG, Atanda Adebayo, a member of NUPENG, Lawal was brutally killed by men of Operation Messa, a constituted security body comprising the Nigerian Navy and Nigeria Police. He was shot on April 25, 2014 around 2.00 a.m. at Tin Can Island Expressway, Lagos.
“We feel pained to disclose that Olalekan was on his legitimate duty when he met his untimely death. The officials of Operation Messa shot him at close range for refusal to part with an illegitimate fee of N500.00, a practice that is common among the officials.”
“We also wish to bring to public notice, the constant harassment, brutalization and extortion of our members by officials of Operation Messa and other law enforcement agents, a situation which is already taking its tolls on us as a union” he said.
Adebayo lamented the circumstances that led to Olalekan’s painful, harrowing and untimely death, which he described as “unfortunate” and “unbearable” to say the least.
“A situation where a young man’s life full of promises was abruptly terminated and cut off from a fresh family life made up of a young wife and little kids over a meagre amount of N500.00 is disheartening and we would appreciate the government looking critically into the matter to effect justice” he said.
Adebayo disclosed that on a number of occasions, the Union had drawn the attention of the government to series of high-handedness of law enforcement agents against their members without any cogent response.
He added that, were it not for the intervention of Lagos Zonal Officers of NUPENG, who were at the scene on the fateful day, the situation would have degenerated into an unprecedented level. “Our officers’ investigation confirmed the killing of Olalekan by officers of Operation Messa.”
He listed the demands of the Union to include compensation to the family of the late Lawal and prosecution of the officer concerned to serve as deterrent to others.
He concluded that based on the Union’s communication with the Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola , generally accepted as a listening governor as well as the friend of the Union, the Union has decided to put all actions on hold with the expectation that the Union’s demands would be met.
The Zonal Public Relations Officer, NUPENG, Tayo Aboyeji said he was called at about 2.00 a.m. on the fateful day to be told that a tanker driver was shot dead.
“On getting there, I realized that the incident had drawn a large crowd including tanker drivers who were outraged over the killing of their colleague because of ordinary N500.00.
“Witnesses kept on shouting “OP Messa,” but were unable to take the number of the vehicle.
Trinity Police men came to the scene but were unable to calm the situation.’ They eventually depended on us and by God’s grace, we succeeded in calming down the drivers while Olalekan’s body was taken to Isolo General Hospital where the autopsy actually revealed that a shot at close range tore his intestines.”
“We referred the matter to the Naval Base, NNS Beecroft and we were told that they have commenced investigation. They showed concern,” he said.