IT was a bloody weekend in Ibadan yesterday as factional members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) engaged in superiority battle over the control of the body. Sporadic gunshots sent people at the Iwo Road end of the state capital scampering for safety while shops were razed by the irate transporters. By the time the dust finally settled, 20 persons were feared dead while about 30 others sustained gunshot and matchete cut injuries.
The bloody clash which started late on Saturday night lasted till yesterday with residents of the Iwo Road area, mostly caught in the crossfire. Most of them stayed away from churches and other spiritual activities in order to avert being hit by stray bullets.
Last Monday, a similar crisis had broken out between the two factions at the Iwo Road and Ojoo end of the city, which led to the death of two persons. The Alhaji Lateef Akinsola (a.ka. Tokyo) faction of the union had swooped on the Mukaila Lamidi (a.k.a Auxilliary) faction and dislodged them from the two parks.
In what appeared a reprisal attack, the Auxilliary faction had on Saturday night launched a surprise attack on the Tokyo group in their bid to reclaim control of Iwo Road and Ojoo parks as well as vehicles violently taken away from them during the last Monday clash.
The Guardian learnt that the factional NURTW members arrived about 11.45 p.m. on Saturday distributing themselves along some vital spots in the area and shooting sporadically. In the ensuing shoot out, several people were reportedly killed while those injured were quickly taken to University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan.
As the Iwo Road violence was subsiding, the NURTW men moved to Ojoo where Tokyo’s boys were already on the ground. Another bloody scene similar to that of Iwo Road also ensued. The bloody attacks affected inter-state vehicular movements as commercial drivers linking Ibadan to their routes had to make detour to other areas. Traffic was held up for several hours.
An official of the state fire service, Olunike Olayinka who confirmed the burning of some shops by the warring factions said they received distress call in the morning and promptly mobilized to the scene to save the situation, adding that by the time they arrived, they observed that some shops were still burning. She disclosed that about 20 shops were burnt while property worth millions of naira was lost in the inferno. About 50 mobile policemen with eight patrol vehicles and four Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC) were drafted to the scene to maintain law and order.
The police spokesman, Olatunji Ajimuda who confirmed the clash said that about 25 members of the union had been arrested in connection with the incident.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN