…Says ‘Okada’ riders, religious intolerance top security threats
…It’s a plot to fuel division —Nnamdi Kanu
…Police should avoid ethnic profiling —Yoruba groups
…I don’t believe IPOB can attack Lagos —Gani Adams
…As Sanwo-Olu mulls total ban on ‘Okada’ operations
By Dapo Akinrefon & Olasunkanmi Akoni
THE Commissioner of Police, Lagos Command, Mr Hakeem Odumosu, yesterday, claimed that the proscribed separatist group, Indigenous People of Biafra, IPoB; agitators for the Oodua Republic and commercial motorcyclists, also known as Okada riders, constitute security threats in Lagos State.
He also alleged that IPoB intends to attack soft targets in Lagos.
The allegations were rebuffed and described as a lie by IPoB leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, nine Yoruba groups and the Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams.
These came on a day Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said his administration has concluded plans to review the 2012 Lagos Traffic Law, guiding the operations of Okada riders, noting that there might be a total ban on their activities.
It’s a plot to fuel division —Nnamdi Kanu
Faulting Odumosu’s allegations, IPOB leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu said the report was a plot to cause division between the Yoruba and Igbo.
Kanu said: “The public is hereby notified that the allegations that IPOB is plotting to attack Lagos is a lie. Their intention is to fuel a division between Yoruba and Biafrans. It won’t work. This is not 1967.”
Police should avoid ethnic profiling —Pan Yoruba groups
Also, the Pan Yoruba groups, in a statement, urged the Police to avoid ethnic profiling adding that the security report was an Igbo plot against Lagos and Yoruba people.
The statement was signed by Messrs Femi Ajibola (Oodua Nationalist Coalition), Kunle Oshodi (Agbekoya), Taofik Adeyemi (Reformed Oodua People’s Congress), Diran Obalola (Oodua Liberation Movement), Femi Agbana (Yoruba World Congress), Rasaq Arogundade (OPC-Reformed), Eunice Okunola (Oodua Women Coalition), Goke Otunla (Network for Yoruba Alliance) and Ahmed Korede (Apapo Oodua Koya).
The statement reads: “While we cherish the responsibility of the police to do their work, we are concerned about the public declaration of the alleged IPOB plans to attack Lagos by the Nigerian Police.
“We are worried that since the police already claim to be in possession of what appears to be confidential information, the proper thing would have been to discreetly go after the IPOB members to arrest them unless the police are not sure of its information.
“The police statement carries the possibility of being misinterpreted as an Igbo plot against Lagos and Yoruba people. This is dangerous given the fragile nature of Nigeria.
“We are deeply concerned that the Police publicly declared allegation tempts the prospect of setting Yoruba in the South West against Igbos. This is very unfortunate at a time that state institutions are increasingly being turned to instruments for pursuing primordial ethnic interests. The Yoruba will work never to allow this to happen
“We are concerned that terrorists and armed herdsmen of Fulani extraction have openly been attacking, kidnapping, raping and killing Yoruba people in the South West but at no time did the police call a press conference to announce such plan after before or after each horrendous killing. There was also never a time the police linked such attacks to any ethnic group.
“Only recently, Yoruba in Mile 2 was attacked by these people, the police did not make any attempt to speak about the ethnic identity of the perpetrators yet we know they are largely from a section in the North.
“We are concerned that the police allegation risks setting a greater danger of ethnic conflict between Igbo and Yoruba people, conscious that this will benefit a certain group who think setting Igbo against Yoruba will meet the objective of scuttling the search for peaceful self-determination by the two great civilizations.
“We urge the police not to allow themselves to be used by the desperate Caliphate whose age-long dream is to divide the South and set the people against each other for its own narrow gains
“We urge Yoruba people to ignore the conscious attempts to cause ethnic conflict between Igbo and Yoruba at this time that both ethnic groups need each other.
“The police should avoid ethnic profiling. It is dangerous. The Pan Yoruba groups assure of our collective desire to sustain peaceful coexistence between Igbo and Yoruba and avoid any slide into ethnic conflict, an ill wind that blows no one any good. To this end, we shall set up a Committee to work out a platform to sustain ethnic harmony in Lagos.
“On police plan to attack agitators for Yoruba self-determination, we urge the police to have respect for international laws and should signify the basic democratic principle which is the right of a people to debate their political and economic future.”
I don’t believe IPOB can attack Lagos—Gani Adams
When contacted, Iba Adams said he does not believe anyone or a group can attack Lagos State.
He said: “I don’t expect IPOB to attack Lagos and I believe they (IPOB) will never do that. I also do not oppose their call for self-determination. I will be the last person to oppose any ethnic group calling for self-determination because no part of the country is safe from the attack of marauding Fulani herdsmen.
“I don’t believe IPOB will do that and I don’t believe any Igbo man will attack Lagos because a majority of their businesses are in Lagos. We, in Yorubaland, are also feeling the pains because people are being killed and maimed on our farms, our farmlands are being destroyed. When you push a goat to the wall, the goat will fight back; I will not support anyone planning to cause crises in the South-West. If anything happens to Lagos, the country is gone. I don’t believe in that information that IPOB is about to attack Lagos but we had to react to it. Not only IPOB, but no ethnic nationality must attack Lagos, if they do, that is the beginning of trouble in Nigeria.”
IPOB, Oodua Republic agitators on close watch
The police boss spoke while giving an appraisal of the security situation in Lagos at the Stakeholders’ Meeting on Security, held in Alausa, Ikeja, organized by the state government.
This stakeholders’ meeting was aimed at putting the security agencies, communities and entire stakeholders at alert, towards making the state safer for residents to live and carry out daily activities within ambits of the law without any apprehension or fear.
On the activities of IPOB and Oodua republic agitators, the Lagos Police boss said: “The threat of IPOB to attack soft targets in Lagos is equally being put on the radar of the command’s intelligence gathering and other security services in the state. Strategies are being put in place to neutralize their activities.
“Similarly, the command has taken notice of agitators for the Oodua Republic by some Yoruba separatist groups and the threats to disrupt law and order in the state. 24 of these groups have been identified and being closely monitored.
“The command is using this medium to solicit for the support of all and sundry to be vigilant at all times and report any suspicious person or movement to security agencies. Let us adopt the slogan of “when you see something, say something.”
Okada riders, religious intolerance top security threats in Lagos
He, however, identified various security challenges in the state with the menace of commercial motorcyclists, popularly called Okada riders, and the intolerant attitude of religious leaders top the lists of security threats in the state.
He stated that 192 died in 280 okada accidents recorded by the police between January and May 7, 2021, across the state.
Odumosu said: “One of the areas of concern to every citizen is the current security situation in the country and the need to continuously appraise the existing strategies in Lagos State to combat the threats in order to keep the hoodlums at bay will not be out of place.
“To sustain the fight against crimes and criminalities in the state, it is gratifying to inform the gathering that, from 1st January 2021 till date, the command has been able to bring down to the barest minimal, as all indices of serious crimes, like cultism, armed robbery, kidnapping, civil unrest, violent protests and targeted attacks on Government facilities by aggrieved groups have assumed a downward trend.
“Our intelligence report revealed that most miscreants now use abandoned buildings as hideouts and in most cases, initiation camp, use uncompleted buildings, dwelling house and hotels to hibernate before and after the commission of the crime, use abandoned vehicles to store their operational arms and their loots, build shanties on abandoned open spaces and convert it to their sanctuaries to commit crimes, use vehicles with covered number plates to perpetrate crimes, illegal fabrication and possession of arms, use of tinted vehicles to commit crimes.”
Sanwo-Olu mulls total ban on Okada operations in Lagos
Meanwhile, speaking at a Stakeholders’ Meeting on Security, held in Alausa, Ikeja, Governor Sanwo-Olu lamented that commercial motorcyclists were flouting the restrictions imposed on their activities
His words: “Nigeria’s ability to reach its full economic potential will be severely constrained in the absence of guaranteed security of lives and property in Lagos. In recent times, we have recorded a worrying trend of nefarious activities in the state; from kidnappings, armed robbery, cult clashes and violent assaults. We have tried, as a state, to respond in real-time to the majority of these challenges by deploying a range of tactics from force-for-force, to carrot-and-stick to diplomacy.
“To advance our interests and objectives as a state, in the context of security, is to ensure that we contain and arrest every form of aggression and crime that threatens the development, progress and growth of the state; and by so doing improve upon the welfare and quality of life of the people.
“For us in Lagos State, there is a direct correlation between security and long-lasting economic growth and development. We cannot speak of a 21st-century megacity and the vision of a Greater Lagos if we are unable to assure and guarantee the security of our citizens and their properties.
“The resultant effect of the #ENDSARS mayhem has contributed in no small way to the severely fragmented security architecture that we have today. We have risen to the arduous challenge of arresting this general state of insecurity with all the resources we have at hand. Over the last couple of weeks and months, we have instituted a number of measures designed to curb activities that engender insecurity, all with a view to secure our state.
“We have noted with dismay the fact that okada riders disregard and flout the restrictions imposed on their activities in certain areas of the metropolis. We have also observed the ongoing war between commercial motorcyclists and law enforcement agencies.
“This propensity for lawlessness is not who we are as Lagosians. The Lagos State Road Traffic Law, enacted in 2012 to safeguard the lives of people and to maintain law and order on our roads, is the legal backbone for the restrictions put in place early last year and designed to curb the okada menace.
“We banned the activities of okada and tricycle operators on key roads, highways and local government areas but, sadly, many have continued to disobey the law and, in some cases, resist enforcement by engaging in organised attacks on law enforcement agencies.
“Our mission of attaining a Greater Lagos can only be achieved when we all resolve to live in an orderly manner. Consequently, and based on all that we have seen and experienced in the past couple of weeks, as well as the increasing threats posed by the activities of commercial motorcycle operators to the safety and security of lives, we will be announcing further changes to the parameters of motorcycle and tricycle operations in the state.
“We are also excited to announce that next week, we will be launching the ‘Last Mile Buses’ that will ply inner roads and safely get passengers to their final destinations. We envisage that this initiative will also generate employment opportunities for Lagosians, including the commercial motorcyclists who will be employed as operators of the Last Mile Buses.”
On the re-launch of the Lagos State Residents Card, the governor said: “This database will form a critical part of our security architecture, as it will ensure that we know who is who, at any point in time.”