Nigeria: Gridlock As Togolese President Visits Lagos

Many parts of Lagos, the nation's commercial nerve centre, were locked down yesterday as the state hosted the president of Togo, Faure Gnassingbe, who was on a visit to the $14 billion Dangote Refinery at the Lekki Free Trade Zone, Lekki.

There was a heavy presence of security operatives that dotted the streets of Lagos, particularly around the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, and all the routes the long motorcade of the Togolese president would pass through.

A combined team, made up of men of the Nigeria Police, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) and the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) laced the roads in and out of the airport, where Gnassingbe was expected to pass.

The Guardian gathered that as early as 7.00a.m., security operatives, some of them heavily armed, were deployed on the roads. It was, however, not clear if there were security concerns.

Though the operatives ensured rapid vehicular movements in and out of the airport corridor, commercial bus operators and their passengers, however, had a torrid time as they were prevented from stopping at designated bus stops.

Around 8:20a.m., the plane carrying Gnassingbe touched ground at the Presidential Wing of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, and he was received by the governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enalemah, President of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote and some members of the business community.

Shortly after a brief welcome ceremony, the president and his entourage proceeded to Lekki Free Trade Zone on inspection of Dangote Refinery. Gnassingbe's visit to the refinery is premised on a possible business partnership between Dangote Group and the West African country.

While his arrival and visit to the Dangote Refinery was smooth-sailing, his return trip to the airport and eventual departure left many road users stranded for several hours as the roads were blocked in observance of the usual protocol when top government dignitaries visit.

From around 2pm, it was a standstill on Airport Road, Oshodi-Apapa expressway and adjoining routes. The roads were not only blocked, some planes were seen flying low. The Guardian gathered their landing clearance was being delayed until the takeoff of the presidential jet of the Togolese president. In another development, following constant kidnappings and killings by suspected gunmen in Lagos and its environs, the acting Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, would be making an emergency visit to Lagos.

With the visit, which may last for two days, the headquarters of the Nigeria Police would move to Kam Selem House, Obalende, where the IGP office annex is located.The Guardian reliably gathered that the IGP was perturbed by reports of insecurity in Lagos and the fact that the police are almost helpless. The visit is the first since he assumed office as the nation's 19th indigenous police boss.

It was gathered that top on his plan is to propel officers and men of the command to rise up to the duty of protecting lives and property, which is almost fading away by the continued killings and abductions in the state.

Pundits have criticized that citizens are almost loosing their trust in the police in Lagos and Ogun states after dozens of residents were killed in the pool of their blood by gunmen who invaded Ishawo and Igbo Olomu areas of Ikorodu."Since those attacks, killings and kidnappings have continued unabated. Why is it that immediately after these attacks, the military are called to intervene and protect residents? What it means is that the people have lost trust in the police.

"When they killed people in Ikorodu area, it was military that took over security of the area, when they invaded Igando, it was military presence that gave residents the courage to return back to their homes. A first class Oba in Lagos is still in the hands of his abductors after two weeks and you think residents are happy with the police" a source said.The Lagos State police spokesperson, Dolapo Badmos, a Superintendent of Police, confirmed the IGP visit to Lagos.

Source: The Guardian.