•Records show 86% reduction in crime, 63.7% in accident rate

By Olasunkanmi Akoni

TRADITIONAL rulers, religious leaders, residents, and Community Development Associations, yesterday, urged Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to consider a total ban on the operations of commercial motorcycle operators, popularly known as okada riders across the state to end the menace and security threat posed by the riders.

Governor Sanwo-Olu had imposed a fresh okada ban in six local government areas and nine Local Council Development Areas to curtail the unruly and sometimes criminal activities of the riders.

The latest ban came amid concerns raised by the Oniru of Iruland, Oba Omogbolahan Lawal and Lekki residents on the urgent need to avert security breaches in the area.

The letter titled, ‘Urgent security alert,’ reads: “Intelligence Report reaching us is that following the raid on okada riders, and seizure of their bikes in Lekki Phase 1, the riders believed the action was instigated by Lekki residents, who are determined to take away their source of livelihood. To this end, there are plans to invade inner streets to wreak havoc anytime from now in Lekki.

In its proactive measures, His Royal Majesty – the Oniru of Iru Land, Oba Abdulwasiu Omogbolahan Lawal (Abisogun II) advised that all access points within the Estate be secured and all security guards be on red alert. This is an emergency measure, not panic.

“This intelligence is from our security services provider. We had the same experience during the #EndSARS protest and activated the same precautionary measures being advised by our security providers.”

Total ban and security threat

Meanwhile, stakeholders called for a total ban during a Stakeholders’ forum with the theme: theme: ‘Okada Ban: What Next,’ organized by the Ministry of Information and Strategy and Ministry of Transportation, at Ikeja, Lagos.

Addressing participants, the Commissioner for Transportation, Dr Frederic Oladeinde, stated that a total of 7,500 motorcycles have been impounded and crushed since the enforcement of the Okada ban began in Lagos in June 2022.

Oladeinde said: “Lagosians may recall that on the 18th May 2022, Mr. Governor made a pronouncement on the total ban of motorcycle operations in six Local Government and the respective nine Local Council Development Areas under them including all major bridges and highways of the state and the subsequent inauguration of the Lagos State Anti-Okada Squad saddled with the responsibility to aid the police and taskforce to implement and enforce total compliance concerning the law.

“The Anti-Okada Squad was deployed to their respective locations and commenced operation effectively from the 1st June 2022. The Anti-Okada Squad work in partnership with relevant stakeholders (that is Police, Media, and Unions, among others) whose contributions, thus far, cannot be over-emphasized.

“Today, we are delighted to report our position on the review of the Anti-Okada’s enforcement operation in the last 2 months. It is important to mention that the operation has recorded significant successes and compliance.

“It is no longer news that there is a rise in the level of insecurity as a result of the rampage of banditry and kidnapping across all states of the federation. The Federal Government, therefore, is presently considering the total ban of motorcycle operations across the federation as most of these underground activities are been enhanced with the use of motorcycles.

“Also, the attention of the state government has been drawn to the security threat parading  news across all socio-media platforms that some unscrupulous individuals are planning to attack the state, and the government is already working round the clock to secure the state and its residence from these non-state actors.

“Hence, the spotlight has been on okada operations within the state as a result of their non-compliance to traffic rules and regulations as well as the fact that it is adjudged the only means of transportation that is used to easily and successfully perpetrate all sorts of crimes such as robbery, kidnapping, supply of arms, attack, among others due to its manoeuvring nature.

Also speaking, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso explained that at the initial stage of the ban, there was criticism based on sentiments from the people.

Omotoso said: “At the time Governor Sanwo-Olu announced the government’s decision, there were criticisms from various segments of the State. Those complaints were based largely on sentiments of those who had not witnessed the havoc some of the Okada riders caused in the areas of health and security.

“I, hereby, assure everyone that Governor Sanwo-Olu is going to decide in the best interest of Lagosians”

Monarchs and others call for total ban

The Olu of Oregun, Oba Tajudeen Muritala, at the forum condemned the use of Okada as a mode of transportation in a mega, smart city like Lagos.

Oba Muritala said: “Okada operation should be banned totally across Lagos State because of the menace they constitute. They are reckless and security risk in the quest for making brisk money. They should be banned totally.”

Also, Onisabe of Igbobi-Sabe, Yaba, Oba Owolabi Adeniyi and Oniba of Iba, Oba Sulaimon Adeshina Raji, unanimously declared that there should be proper plan and holistic steps taken to ban Okada operation in the state.

Also, religious leaders, both Christians and Muslims supported the total ban saying “the state government has started, it has to continue with a total ban on Okada. Going back is too dangerous.”

A communiqué issued at the end of the stakeholders’ forum reads: “The enforcement of the ban should be sustained to ensure that the gains of the ban are not reversed. The pockets of riders still found operating on forbidden routes, especially highways, should bear arrested and made to face the consequences of their actions.

“The Lagos State Government should enforce a total ban on Okada to further improve safety and security in Lagos.

“The military and the police should sustain their partnership with the State Government to ensure that their officers stop flouting the ban in the specified Local Governments and Local Council Development Areas.

“That any Okada rider found flouting the law and attacking Law Enforcement Officers/Agencies should be prosecuted and made to face the full wrath of the law.

“That cutting-edge technology (streetlights, Close Circuit Television, CCTV, drones, be deployed to monitor traffic incidents and enhance security across the State.

“That community, traditional and religious leaders should be more involved in intelligence gatherings and security of their domain across the state.”

Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.