A police officer identified from his name tag as Sunday Etim, emptied a teargas canister on a group of commuters in a commercial bus in the Sabo, Yaba area of Lagos on Thursday, January 16, 2020 around 6am.

Among those affected were a pregnant woman, a couple of other ladies, toddlers and the bus driver. Everyone emerged from the bus misty-eyed, bloodshot-eyed, coughing and sneezing.

Our correspondent who was on the scene reports that the bus driver was the target of the teargas canister. “The policeman was aiming at the driver’s eyes but the fumes affected everyone in the bus.”

A fight over N150

Trouble began when a friend of the police officer who was standing beside him at the Sabo bus-station, got into a shouting match with the driver over the fare being charged.

“The driver had charged a fare of N150 which the policeman and his female friend refused to pay”, our correspondent shares.

“A fight then ensued between the policeman's friend, the pregnant lady and one other woman that was in the bus after the teargas was fired."

What followed was a free-for-all and commotion that engulfed most of the Sabo area for well over an hour, compounding traffic in an area famed for its bottleneck.

A Lagos 'Danfo' conveying people to their destination, 'Agbero' helps the driver. (Illustrative photo--Punch)
A Lagos 'Danfo' conveying people to their destination, 'Agbero' helps the driver. (Illustrative photo--Punch)

“The policeman then went into the Sabo police station to get one of his colleagues to arrest the driver and the women who fought his friend. The crowd however resisted their arrest and the driver escaped.

“When the policeman noticed the situation was getting out of hand, he then tried to calm the whole thing by leaving the scene but his friend refused and still got into more fights with the pregnant lady and anyone else that dared to challenge her.”

Police officers in Nigeria are famous for unruliness, human rights abuses, disproportionate use of force in dealings with members of the public, extra judicial killings and extortion.

A series of police reform initiatives from the police top brass and the presidency over the years, have yielded little by way of behavioral change within the rank and file.

Lagos police spokesperson, DSP Bala Elkana, was not immediately available for comments for this story.