We waited an hour before towing Gawat’s vehicle –LASTMA
The General Manager of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, Mr. Babatunde Edu, has said LASTMA officials waited for over an hour before towing the vehicle of the missing television presenter, Alhaji Razaq Gawat, on Eko Bridge on Tuesday.
Gawat, who was last seen on Tuesday, was declared missing by the Lagos State Police Command on Wednesday.
The LASTMA GM in a statement on Sunday said the vehicle, a 4RUNNER black Toyota SUV with number plate RE 77 AAA was found on the Eko Bridge around 11:45pm on Tuesday by his men led by the Zonal head, Mr. Akinpelu Ayuba.
He said the LASTMA officials were conducting regular safety checks on the bridge in order to ensure that there were no abandoned or broken down vehicles on it.
Edu said, “The vehicle was parked very close to the kerb with no visible sign of hit from other motorists except that its hazard light was on and the four doors were locked.
“The thinking of the officials at the time was that the occupant(s) had run out of fuel and had gone to source for same or in dire need of assistance. The dedicated officers in order to ensure the safety of the occupant(s) and also render assistance if need be, formed a search group to look out for the owner of the vehicle.
“The search went on for over one hour with no trace of the owner. In order to guide against stealing of the vehicle and to ensure that on coming vehicles and other road users did not run into it, the black jeep was towed into in the early hour of Wednesday to the Olowu Zone of the agency’s office on Lagos Island.”
He said the zone’s base officer, Mrs. Ganiat Ijaoba, while conducting routine checks on all impounded vehicles on Wednesday, discovered through the side glass that the vehicle’s passenger seat had some religious books and materials such as Qurans and complimentary cards that had Gawat Communications written on them scattered in the vehicle.
Edu said one of Gawat’s relatives, who is also an official of the agency, identified the vehicle as that of the presenter and he was asked to contact the family.
The LASTMA boss said Gawat’s wife, Fatimat, and three other men came to the agency’s office and were later joined by the Divisional Police Officer of Adeniji Central Police Station, Mr. Monday Agbonnika, in company with some policemen on Wednesday to take a look at the vehicle.
He added that after several unsuccessful attempts to open the vehicle with a spare key brought by members of Gawat’s family, the presenter’s son, Jubril, invited a panel beater who forcibly opened it.
The LASTMA boss said Fatimat entered the jeep to look for some documents which were observed to be missing together with her husband’s phone.
The team, comprising the presenter’s wife, other members of his family, LASTMA officials and the police later visited the scene where the vehicle was initially towed.
“A letter demanding for the release of the victim vehicle was written by the police so as to further help them in their investigations and this was obliged and the jeep was taken away by the police,” Edu said.
Meanwhile, a professor at the Lagos State University, Ojo, Is-haq Akintola, has described as baseless, unfounded and malicious, the rumours making the round that he found Gawat in Ibadan, Oyo State and brought him to Lagos on Friday.
Is-haq, who observed that such rumours would only create unnecessary tension, said he was at the University of Ilorin, Kwara State, on official assignment on Thursday and Friday.
Also, Markaz Islamic and Arabic Institute, Lagos, on Friday organised a prayer for the safe return of the presenter.
During the prayer, which was led by Sheik Yaqub Al-Ilory, the cleric advised Gawat’s family to put their faith in God and urged security agents to find him.