By OKOSUN OKHUELEIGBE
Following the death of a tanker conductor on Thursday, the Nigerian Navy has denied that its personnel were responsible for the death of the conductor.
The conductor identified as Abass Kasali, died at Kirikiri area of Lagos after his driver ran into a motorcyclist.
The Commanding Officer, Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) WEY, Commodore Celestine Odiase, who made this disclosure said the incident happened between naval personnel, tanker drivers and area boys.
The conductor was said to have been crushed to death by his tanker driver, one Ibrahim Salami, who tried to evade arrest for parking wrongly on the bridge.
He said, “You are aware of the stress motorists undergo along the Oshodi/Apapa Expressway and this axis is access way to one of the busiest seaports in Nigeria.
“These tanker drivers park everywhere and more worrisome is that they park on the Oshodi bridge. You will agree with me that these are old bridges and were not built to carry heavy things.
“It was because of this that the navy decided to deploy unarmed personnel to that area.”
Explaining what happened at the scene, Commodore Odiase said, “I was told about the incident around 7am. I rushed to the scene and found the gap between my men and area boys.
“They were trying to lynch my men. I saw the leadership of the tanker drivers trying to pacify them but they were demanding that we bring out the ratings for them to kill.
“What truly happened was that there is an arrangement already on ground that they should always leave one lane free and that they should not park on the bridge.
“So, our personnel saw them parking on the bridge and as they made to run away, the conductor jumped down and the tanker crushed him to death.”
On the N500 bribe his men was accused to have demanded from the tanker driver, Odiase said, “The issue of bribe does not come in and if any of the men has any inclination to do so, they wouldn’t have done it under the watch of a responsible Lieutenant Commander.
“I have never deployed anybody to collect money. We don’t extort people for money either.
“I appeal to tanker drivers to see our ratings as friends. We are only there to ensure free flow of traffic and safety of motorists,” Commodore Odiase concluded.