•Over 150 okada impounded

•June 1 deadline won’t stop enforcement, says LASG

Okada Ban, Okada ban: Lagos won't stop enforcement — Sanwo-Olu
File image.

By Olasunkanmi Akoni & Evelyn Usman, LAGOS

Pandemonium broke out, yesterday, at the Alaba-Rago area of the Mile-2-Badagry expressway in Lagos, after commercial motorcyclists, popularly called Okada, took over the busy road to protest the eviction letter served to occupiers of the market to quit in two weeks.

The Okada riders, who misconstrued the visit to be enforcement of the ban on motorcycles, as directed by the Lagos State government, set up bonfire on the expressway and dared policemen to invade their territory.

The report on the enforcement of the ban on motorbikes spread across the state, with motorcyclists in some parts spoiling for a showdown with the Polive.

Vanguard gathered that for several months, there had been negotiations between the state government and representatives of occupiers of the Alaba-Rago market, over the modernisation of the market.

However, a report on the activities of criminals using the market as their hideouts reportedly prompted the state government’s move to give occupiers of the market a deadline to vacate the place.

Some eyewitnesses said immediately after the Task Force handed the letter to a representative of the market, commercial motorcycles blocked the highway, preventing the free flow of traffic.

They were alleged to have also brandished dangerous weapons in preparation to match the police fire-for-fire.

Vanguard learned that policemen from the Area E Command and divisions under the command visited the scene to control the situation. 

On sighting the policemen, the commercial motorcyclists hauled stones and other dangerous objects at the policemen.

Several motorcycles, which were used to barricade the expressway, were seized by the policemen.

Some traders hurriedly closed for the day for fear of their shops being looted.

One of them, Mr Biodun Okenaike, who spoke with Vanguard, said: “We had to close our shops for the day because of the gunshots. The first time the policemen came, it was peaceful. We welcome this development because if security agents had done the needful, this area would have been sanitised. Often times, when the criminals steal, they run into the market and that would be the end of that matter. 

“Though some leaders have done their best to curb the excesses of these criminals to no avail, most of them sleep in the market and commit atrocities at night.”

Before the chaos, the Commander RRS, CSP Olayinka Egbeyemi and his counterpart at the Lagos State Environment and Special Offences Unit, Task Force, CSP Sola Jejeloye met the occupants of the market in clusters to inform them of the 14-day vacation order. 

The Public Affairs Officer, Lagos RRS, Femi Moliki, said: “The emerging security reports from the area have shown that Alaba Rago has become a den of criminals. The State Government has concluded plans to modernise the place in the shortest possible time in the best interest of the residents.

June 1 deadline won’t stop enforcement, says LASG

Reacting to further disturbances by the okada riders, the Lagos State Government yesterday said that it will continue to enforce restrictions on okada. In a statement signed by the Commissioner for Information & Strategy, Mr. Gbenga Omotoso, LASG said that “the seizure of commercial motorcycles by the Lagos State Task Force will continue, despite the June 1 deadline issued by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu for them to leave six Local Government Areas. The six local governments are: Eti-Osa, Ikeja, Lagos Island, Lagos Mainland, Apapa and Surulere.

“The deadline does not invalidate the provisions of the Lagos State Transport Sector Reform Law of 2018, which states that “no persons shall ride, drive or propel a motorcycle or tricycle on a major highway within the State, and any person in contravention of this provision commits an offence” and will be made to face the wrath of the law.

“The Lagos State Task Force, led by CSP Shola Jejeloye, has continued to enforce the law. It seized 238 motorcycles in Lekki on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“In Iba on Lagos-Badagry Expressway, where it was violently resisted today, the Task Force seized 195 motorcycles. The riders were operating on highways and bridges in flagrant disobedience of the law because, according to them, they are free to ply unauthorised routes till June 1. This is wrong.

“The February 1, 2020 directive has not been reversed. The enforcement was weakened by COVID-19, which affected all areas of life. Now, the action is being reinforced.”

Vanguard News

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