One dead as Sanwo-Olu’s anti-Okada squad starts total enforcement

Okada Riders Union sue Lagos State Government over restriction

A middle-aged woman died on the spot when she fell off a commercial motorcycle, popularly called okada, at Ikeja Along, on June 1st, 2022. This was as the operator tried to avoid arrest by Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s anti-Okada enforcement squad as the ban on okada operation began.

 

Ikeja is one of the six local governments and nine Local Council Developments Area (LCDA) in the pilot phase of the clampdown.

 

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu had on May 18 signed an executive order prohibiting okada operation in 15 council areas of the state.

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The affected councils are Ikeja, Eti-Osa, Lagos Island, Surulere, Apapa and Lagos Island local government areas, while the LCDAs on which okada operation had been banned are Onigbongbo, Ojodu, Ikoyi-Obalende, Iru-Victoria Island, and Lagos Island East. Others are; Itire-Ikate, Coker Aguda, Iganmu and Yaba.

 

The woman, whose identity was not known, according to an eye witness named Clement Inuwa, a commercial bus driver, fell as the okada rider tried to avoid the Taskforce, who had taken a position on both carriageways to arrest any defaulters of the governor’s order.

 

“The okada rider and the woman passenger were coming from Iyana-Ipaja and heading towards Oshodi very early in the morning when they ran into the enforcement team.

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In the process of manoeuvring and avoiding arrest, the woman fell, hit her head on the median and died on the spot. The okada driver however escaped.

 

At Apapa, it was a difficult time for port users as many of them had to resort to trekking, while few rode bicycles to the Apapa Wharf and TinCan Ports, due to the commencement of the total ban on okada operation.

 

The Port access roads, such as Creek Road and others were clear of okada menace yesterday as the operators stayed away on the first day of the enforcement of the order.

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Until yesterday, okada was solely depended upon by port users into and out of Apapa, as port activities have made the entire port city almost inaccessible.

 

It was gathered that the state government would be setting up an anti-okada squad and has recruited about 600 members for who it commenced an orientation exercise at the Adeyemi Bero Auditorium, Alausa, Ikeja, on Tuesday. The orientation was organised by the state Ministry of Transportation.

 

Transportation Commissioner Dr. Frederic Oladeinde, on Tuesday, said the aim for the setting up of the squad is to ensure effective enforcement of the ban order.

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Sanwo-Olu, while urging residents to stop patronising Okada riders on highways but embrace the First and Last Mile (FLM) buses, medium-capacity and high-capacity buses, as well as the modern ferries that it is providing on the waterways to ease commuting.

 

The governor insisted that Okada operations on the highways remained unsafe and would no longer be tolerated.

 

“Before the end of the year, we are also bringing the rail along these corridors with their terminals. We have provided jetties as well to provide alternatives.”

 

Commissioner of Police Mr Abiodun Alabi had said both the okada driver and passenger carried by the operator are liable and would be prosecuted if caught on any of the 15 councils piloting the total ban regime.

 

GENESIS

In May, 2022, Sunday-David Umoh, a member of Legacy 360 band, was lynched and set ablaze.

 

The 37-year-old sound engineer was lynched and burnt by irate motorcycle operators at Admiralty Way Lekki on that Thursday evening.

 

It was learned that Sunday-David Umoh met his death while attempting to mediate between his colleagues, Phillip Balogun and Frank, and a bike rider who were arguing over N100, which snowballed into a mob attack.

 

Phillip Balogun and Frank are still lying unconscious in the hospital as at the time of this report.

 

His 36-year-old widow, Grace Bolu, said she was yet to believe that her husband was gone.

 

The mother of two, who works at Ijede LCDA, as a Senior Technical Officer, Mechanical and Infrastructure Department, said: “My husband was not part of those that boarded the bike.

“Two musicians were the ones who boarded the commercial bike. One of them plays for Phyno, while the other plays for Dbanj.

 

“They boarded the bike and agreed to pay N400. On getting to their destination at Beer Bar along Admiralty Way Lekki, they gave the bike man N500.

 

“However, the commercial motorcyclist said he didn’t have N100 change to give them and they got into an argument.

 

“When the argument degenerated into a fight, someone ran inside the bar and called for help.

“My husband was part of the people that went down to intervene and stop the fight.

 

“It was when he tried to intervene that the attackers started shouting that they were ‘Yahoo bys and ritualists.

 

“When they realised that the motorcycle operators were more than them, they ran back to the bar. Unfortunately, the manager of the bar pushed them out, because he doesn’t know the guys who boarded the bike.

 

“That was how they were lynched and my husband was burnt.”

 

Explaining further, Bolu said: “My husband was 37-year-old when he was murdered in cold blood.

 

“I received a call on Friday, May 13, at about past 3pm. I was told that my husband is late. I had to quickly rush down to the church.

 

“I was around my dad’s Church. Because I could not talk, I was in shock, and I gave my dad the phone.

 

His schedule

“My husband left home on Tuesday. Normally he leaves home on Tuesdays because he works with two companies.

 

“He works as a sound engineer at Church of God Mission International on the island during the day, then in the evenings if they have shows, or he has a gig somewhere, he plays for a band called Legacy 360 band.

 

“Most times they play on Thursday and Friday. It was that Thursday they went to play at Beer Bar.

 

“Most times when they get to any destination, he sends me his location, which he did on that day.

 

“I was expecting him to call that night, but he didn’t. I kept calling him, but his number wasn’t going through.

 

“So I felt maybe the battery was flat, that he would call me the following day after the show.

 

“But he didn’t call. I kept calling, still no response. Then I received the call announcing his death.

 

“My husband is from Eket in Akwa Ibom, while I am from Ogun State. On April 6 our marriage was nine.”

 

Describing his late husband, Bolu said: “My husband is loving, and caring and he goes all out for people, not just his family.

 

“He is gifted with his hands; there is no handiwork he can’t do. He repairs cars; you will think he is a mechanic.

 

“Electrical works, too. He fixed the stage in my church where I worship — Church of God Mission International, Ikeja.

 

“He worked with Pastor Paul Adefarsain during the Experience 2019, 2020 and 2021.

 

“For the sake of my little children, my husband deserves justice. Justices should be served.

 

“I want security for my children; I am just a civil servant,” she wept.

 

Meanwhile, the Lagos State Government has reassured residents over the ban.

 

A statement by Gbenga Omotoso, Commissioner for Information and Strategy, said: “There is no need for any anxiety over the enforcement of the ban, which has been hailed by the majority of Lagosians as a reinforcement of the Lagos Traffic Law 2012 (amended in 2018).

 

“The government wishes to advise all law-abiding citizens to go about their businesses without any fear whatsoever as measures have been put in place to forestall any disturbance. Lagosians and visitors are urged to co-operate with the law enforcement agencies in our collective interest.”

 

SECURITY

A security report has revealed that a good percentage of those parading themselves as commercial motorcyclists are indeed hoodlums and bandits who have invaded Lagos.

 

At a security meeting in Abuja recently, it was revealed that over three million okadas riders trooped into Lagos since 2020.

 

The bad ones among them are spread across almost all the communities in the state, waiting for the appropriate time to strike. With the foregoing, Lagos can be said to be sitting on a keg of gunpowder waiting to explode.

 

Investigation further revealed that many riders in Lagos are from Chad, Niger and other parts of the African continent. This leaves one to question the efficiency of security agents.

 

Further findings showed that most of these okada riders sneaked into the state at night, hiding their motorbikes in-between goods coming in from other states.

 

While majority of those whose operations were banned in states like Enugu, Abia, Akwa-Ibom Kano, Borno, Cross River and Kaduna among other states, find Lagos as a conducive ground to eke out a living, others use the opportunity to continue with their criminal activities.

One dead as Sanwo-Olu's anti-Okada squad starts total enforcement One dead as Sanwo-Olu's anti-Okada squad starts total enforcement

Also, the recklessness and brazen disregard for constituted authority by some commercial motorcyclists in the state has assumed an alarming situation.

 

A rider, Chijioke Nwampi, said: “It will not go well with those who caused this pain on genuine riders. I started riding Okada in 2012. This is what I use to cater for my family. I have never used it to rob. I have never been involved in an accident either because I always ride with caution. I wonder what life will become when the ban starts.”

 

As at Thursday morning, some of the major roads, such as Cele bus stop, Apple Junction and Mile 2 Oke, all on the Oshodi Apapa expressway, where riders used to cluster, witnessed free flow of traffic.

 

At 10 am., no Okada operator was sighted in the Lekki and Ajah axis, including inner roads like Ado/Badore, in Ajah, to Ikota complex/VGC, among others.

 

This forced commuters to trek long distances before boarding commercial buses to their respective destinations. Later in the day, tricycle operators were sighted plying some of the inner routes to convey commuters to bus stops.

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