Threat of Okada riders on the roads of Lagos
Chiemelie Ezeobi reports that the recent brutal murder of a chief police superintendent by some commercial bikers in the Ajao Estate area in Lagos has again highlighted the threat of bikers commonly known as Okada, especially with the influx undocumented foreigners who took over the business
At Ajao Estate, one of the many suburbs that dot Lagos State, commercial motorcyclists popularly known as Okada are a permanent feature in virtually every neighborhood. During the day they carry passengers and at night they park on the road in bunches and sleep on their motorcycles at the mercy of the elements.
It is relevant to point out that more than 80 percent of these runners are from the northern region, half of this figure being undocumented migrants from neighboring countries.
Beyond the domain of Ajao, this scenario is often reproduced in virtually all regions of the state, with a few exceptions. Known for their recklessness, these racers flout virtually all traffic rules, including driving against the tide and highways.
Death at dusk
Last Thursday, these bikers from the Ajao domain went mad and brutally murdered CSP Kazeem Sumonu Abonde attached to the operations department of the command. In addition, DPO Ajao Estate, CSP Abdullahi Malla and other police officers also suffered injuries to varying degrees.
The deceased, who was on the verge of retirement, had led the task force to impound motorcycles in accordance with the recent enforcement of the ban by the Lagos state government. After managing to impound a few, the Okada runners who fled, provided reinforcements and attacked the task force.
Armed with dangerous weapons such as swords, bottles, battle axes, sticks and stones, they rushed at the task force in anger. To contain the situation, the deceased reportedly asked his men not to shoot because of innocent bystanders, an action many told THISDAY represented the ethics of the peace-loving officer. He was said to be law abiding probably due to his understanding of the law as he was also a lawyer.
When they saw that the police were not ready to shoot, the horsemen, who were mainly from the extraction of the North, rushed in glee, forcing the police to flee, with the exception of Abonde, who all the same tried to reason with them to lower their weapons. But the horsemen barked for blood as they punched him with their weapons and inflicted deep gashes on him before disarming him. As he cried out for mercy, they laughed at him by hitting him from all angles. He bled to death and from the severity of the injuries sustained.
Emboldened after firing on the SP, the bikers allegedly stormed the police station where they opened fire, hitting police officers on duty. Faced with the scale of the violence, motorists and pedestrians, including traders, were forced to flee to safety, the latter abandoning their goods.
The command headquarters had to send reinforcements before the provisional peace was
restored in the area. Not surprisingly, all commercial motorcyclists went into hiding for fear of police reprisal for the deaths and injuries of their colleagues.
Police command reacts
Reacting to the gruesome murder, state police public relations official CSP Adekunle Ajisebutu said the incident occurred when command tactical teams made up of men from the RRS, the task force, Ajao’s real estate division and other divisions were raiding identified hot spots and enforcing the ban on the use of motorcycles in restricted areas of the estate and similar locations across the state.
He said: “The exercise was a routine, proactive approach aimed at curbing the activities of armed thieves and other criminal elements of the state. Similar exercises have been carried out in other parts of the state in the past, which has helped reduce crime in those areas.
“After the successful operations which led to the arrest of some of the suspects, other criminal and rogue elements in large numbers besieged the exit of the estate and attacked the police with rifles, swords and other dangerous weapons. .
“Unfortunately, during the deadly attack, CSP Kazeem Sumonu Abonde attached to the Command’s Operations Department was brutally killed by thugs. DPO Ajao Estate, CSP Abdullahi Malla and other police officers also suffered injuries to varying degrees. The body of the deceased officer was taken to Yaba Mainland Hospital for autopsy. “
He said Police Commissioner CP Hakeem Odumosu, while condemning the attack on police officers who were performing their legitimate duties at the time, ordered that a quiet investigation into the incident be carried out immediately, while promising to ensure that all suspects responsible for the heinous act would soon be thwarted.
Advent of Okada
The advent of the okada as an alternative form of transportation was caused by the perpetual traffic grunts that have plagued the state since its inception more than five decades ago.
For any society to prosper, transportation is one of the key factors as it is essential to the economy. The reason is simple: the efficiency with which people, goods and services can move from one point to another largely determines the quality of life of society.
For Lagos, which prides itself on being the largest metropolis in Nigeria and the second most populous city in Africa, as is currently estimated to be the 7th fastest growing city in the world with its With a population of 22 million, sustainable traffic has become a huge challenge for traffic management and the state’s transport system.
But with the entry of okada, a name taken from the defunct Okada Airways, this race of runners contributed significantly to the chaos in the megalopolis, also billed as the nation’s commercial hub.
In addition, the rate of crimes aided by Okada and Keke continues to rise as they are used as an escape device by criminals. They are the cause of several road accidents, often causing deaths or injuries.
In light of the chaos and the resulting negative effects, such as accidents and fatalities, the state government recently resorted to tightening the ban by the old administrations, which bans okada drivers from six local governments. , nine LCDA, 10 highways, 40 bridges and overflights. Drivers of commercial tricycles, commonly referred to as Keke, have also been affected by the ban.
It was in 2010, under the administration of Governor Babatunde Fashola, that the government pulled out all the stops in an attempt to ban commercial motorcycles. Given the fight they had in their hands to try to enforce the ban, the government went to the drawing board and so the Lagos Traffic Act of 2012 was passed.
The various laws regulating their operations as contained in Section 3 of the Road Traffic Act state that they refrain from using any of the 475 roads, including highways and restricted bridges for their operations on the state’s 9,200 highways.
Thus, any person found guilty of having violated the Law will be treated in accordance with the Law on Road Traffic, RTL 2012 Section 3 Sub-section 5 which states that “Anyone who does not comply with any of the provisions of the this Section commits an offense and shall be liable, upon conviction, to imprisonment for three (3) years or to perform community service in accordance with the provisions of Article 347 of the Law on Lagos State Criminal Justice Administration and have his vehicle confiscated for the benefit of the State.
Contained in Section 3 and Regulation 16, Subsections 4, 5 and 6 of the Road Traffic Act 2012, the guidelines also stipulate the wearing of a standard protective helmet with full protection for the driver and the driver. passenger.
It also prohibits the transport of more than one passenger, the transport of children and pregnant women, and the operation of okada beyond 8 p.m. on Victoria Island, IKoyi and Ikeja and 10 p.m. in other parts of the state.
It also warns against riding motorcycles on the sidewalk, curbs or sidelines or in a direction prohibited by law and expects compliance with all traffic laws and regulations.
Last month, CP Odumosu ordered the command’s officers and tactical commanders to immediately embark on full implementation of the state government’s restraining order.
While reacting to what he described as an “act of anarchy, recklessness and impunity exhibited by certain road users, especially Okada drivers” in parts of the state, the Chief of Police in particular ordered officers and men in command to attack road users, including Okada Operators who are riding against the tide and plying the corridors of BRT. He stressed that offenders should be arrested and prosecuted accordingly.
While also calling on state residents to stop violating traffic laws, he said the command will implement full implementation of the Lagos State Transport Sector Reform Act 2018. and other existing laws of Lagos State. It was in obedience to this directive that the CSP Abonde, which was to open its own law firm, died at the hands of the Okada runners, a death which, according to CP Odumosu, would not weaken the morale of the command nor would not discourage it from fulfilling its statutory responsibility.