On February 21, Adekunle Abifarin was driving his minibus along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway when an accident ruined his only source of livelihood.
Gbenga Adelani, a truck driver, made a U-turn around OPIC and hit an 18-passenger Mazda van and Abifarin’s commercial minibus. The truck damaged both vehicles it hit and Abifarin has been unable to use his car ever since.
“I was coming from Magboro, heading towards Mowe, on February 21. So, a truck made a U-turn from around NASFAT without properly checking the road. He just entered the expressway. The truck hit a vehicle heading towards Ibadan from Lagos. It also came over to hit me on the commercial lane. This truck pushed my vehicle over the culvert,” Abifarin told FIJ.
Abifarin’s minibus was held alongside the 18-passenger bus, but the truck that caused the accident was released by the police. Abifarin complained that the police did not hold the truck owner accountable because she is a lieutenant-colonel’s wife.
“The police came and seized all the vehicles involved in the accident. Police officers took my vehicle, an 18-passenger bus, and the truck to the station. The driver of the truck ran away,” he said.
“I went to the police station the next day and saw the owner of the truck, a woman. She was at the police station with the truck driver. The police told her that her driver was at fault. He didn’t look at the road before turning into the expressway. This happened on February 22. Nobody was there on the 23rd.
“On the 24th, the husband of the owner of the truck came to the police station. His name is Olamilekan Bamiteko. Bamiteko, who is a Lieutenant Colonel, told me that he wanted to help but could not take all the responsibility for the damage. The accident got five people injured inside the other vehicle. A man had a fractured leg and was admitted in an orthopaedic hospital in Lagos.”
With a casualty in Igbobi Orthopaedic Hospital needing N600,000 for surgery and two vehicles damaged as a result of the truck driver’s carelessness, Bamiteko refused to shoulder the burden alone. Abifarin’s minibus needs about N400,000 to fix its mangled body. The other 18-passenger vehicle also needs a couple of hundreds of thousands of naira for repairs.
“She said that we should face the driver because it was he who was at fault,” Abifarin told FIJ. “The owner of the truck told us that she could only assist the truck driver”.
FIJ contacted Sarah Bamiteko, the owner of the truck, on Wednesday. She said she wanted to settle the case out of court but the other parties involved proceeded to court.
“The case is in court already. Let us wait for the outcome. We attempted to settle out of court and they refused the option. They said they wanted us to buy them new vehicles. We cannot buy new vehicles for them so they said that they were taking it to court,” she said.
According to Abifarin, the presiding judge had ordered that Bamiteko’s truck be impounded and returned to Ibafo Police Station, but the police could not carry out the order. When asked why she refused to obey the court order, Bamiteko said, “I told you the case is in court. So, go to the court and find out. Let the court pass their judgement. I don’t know why you’re calling me. I don’t have any information.”
Abifarin wants Bamiteko to pay him for damages caused to his minibus, a vehicle he cannot use in its current condition.
“We asked Bamiteko how she was going to help us. She said that she was going to pay N200,000. This amount is not enough. We could not agree with her. So the DPO invited us to his office. Bamiteko’s husband insisted that there was nothing more he could do. He said that neither he nor his wife was responsible and we should hold the driver,” said Abifarin.
“The police took the case to court. That truck driver spent some time in detention. After getting a lawyer, the driver was released to come to court from home. The judge ordered the prosecutor and IPO to get the truck back to police custody, but the owner of the truck refused to hand the car over to the police.
“This bus is what I use to provide for my family.”
The prosecutor, Sergeant James Olofu, confirmed that the case was still in court.
“Yes, I am the prosecutor in this case and the case is in our court at Owode Magistrate Court 4. The court will sit on May 20. The owner of the bus has given evidence. We will listen to the IPO and the owner of the other vehicle on Friday,” Olofu told FIJ.
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