A popular saying goes, “Life be like standing fan, e go touch everybody”. During the governorship elections in Lagos on March 18, 2023, thugs violently suppressed voters to help the ruling party retain power in Lagos state.
These thugs were identified as road transport workers, known as agberos.
Many people rationalised this behaviour under the guise of protecting Lagos from ‘invaders’. But barely two weeks after successfully ‘saving’ Lagos, it seems the “protectors of Lagos” now have to protect their interests.
On March 29, 2023, a protest by commercial bus drivers broke out along the Lagos-Abeokuta expressway, which left passengers stranded. The reason behind this protest is the latest increment of taxes by the agberos.
For anyone who stays in Lagos, bus drivers paying different thugs money at almost every bus stop is as normal as traffic on a Monday morning. According to the International Centre for Investigative Journalism, these drivers pay about ₦82.13 billion annually at bus stops to agberos, which is remitted to the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW).
The money is often collected forcefully, and drivers who resist have their vehicles damaged. During the protest yesterday, drivers complained that the tax increment further reduces their profit margin as they currently pay between ₦10000-15000 daily to the Union.
Has the government intervened?
There hasn’t been an official statement from the Lagos state government yet, but the police have responded to the protest the only way they know how: by shooting.
Police officers from the Alagbado police command reportedly opened fire on protesting drivers on orders from the agberos.
What’s more mind-boggling is that a driver at the scene said the Police officers came with thugs who held cutlasses and chased them into the streets.
Also read: Where’s the Nigerian Police When You Need Them
Hopefully, the bus drivers win their fight against the extortion they’re facing, but given Lagos’ history with protests, chances are this will, unfortunately, be swept under the rug.
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