Lagos ‘traffic policeman’ shot dead at toll gate

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Policemen stand guard at an entrance to the Lagos toll gate

The public has expressed shock after video footage emerged of an officer shooting a man dead at a toll gate in Nigeria.

Witnesses told the BBC that the death of Mr Isah Godwin-Joseph, 21, took place as he was trying to hold down an official who had threatened to shoot toll takers.

Eyewitnesses say the victim did not display the “proper behaviour expected of a policeman” at the toll gate in Lagos.

Police, however, say they had no choice but to use deadly force.

It is difficult to independently verify the claims that Mr Isah Godwin-Joseph died after resisting arrest.

By way of justification, police have said he held a policeman down, leading to his injuries which were fatal.

On Friday, the department of police (DPP) said in a statement that its internal probe had established that Mr Isah was “threatening to shoot toll takers,” using offensive language and “unnecessarily making himself the aggressor, since the toll takers complied with the payment system and did not further take the struggle further.”

According to the statement, the “proper behaviour expected of a policeman at the time of charge of a payment point is one that is within the ambit of decency and restrain.”

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Security forces in Lagos have had a violent past

But residents have told the BBC that the alleged victim had always been polite. He has also been described as a worker for the International Federation of Port and Allied Workers Union.

“He was a good person, very gentle and quietly handy,” Mrs Ebukah, who did not give her last name, told the BBC.

No matter what anyone said about the deceased, she added: “Everybody involved in this case has a problem, a moral problem. This is something that should be really dealt with.”

Lekki toll gate was inaugurated in March 2017 after high-speed motorways were built across the city of Lagos. It was seen as a potential solution to traffic congestion on the adjoining island.

However, maintenance has not been completed and the facility has been plagued by looting, some with tragic consequences.

In December 2016, a 30-year-old woman was stabbed to death by the cleaner at the toll gate.

The body of the cleaner, 40-year-old Pius Agogo, was found in a nearby house on the day the attack happened.

In February this year, soldiers were filmed firing live rounds and tear gas at a mob as they protested against the toll gate. One witness said army personnel “fired live bullets that hit my husband’s genitals”.

The DPP’s statement said that Mr Isah Godwin-Joseph had visited the said toll gate in January 2018 to confront him over past allegations “and in the process, he allegedly cut the off the policeman’s finger with a broken bottle”.

But on Thursday, local resident Ajidakun Rasheed, 35, told the BBC: “The problem at the toll gate is not just a traffic gridlock, it’s a social problem and it’s something that is not really being addressed at all.”

Although there are discussions on how to resolve the issue, local residents say they want those behind the incident to be punished.

“If it’s only one action that he took that resulted in his death, then he doesn’t deserve to die,” Mrs Ebukah added.

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