FOLLOWING the gruesome murder of a sound engineer, David Imoh, allegedly by commercial motorcyclists, widely known as ‘okada’ riders, the Lagos State Taskforce on Monday, May 16, 2022 conducted raids on the riders, arresting 10 of them and impounding 123 motorcycles.
Imoh was allegedly killed and burnt by some commercial motorcyclists, most of them believed to be northerners, over the weekend in the Lekki axis of Lagos State.
According to reports, the sound engineer and his friend, a saxophonist, were said to be involved in a disagreement over N100 with a commercial motorcyclist, popularly known as ‘okada’, and were attacked during which Imoh was killed and then burnt.
Witnesses said the okadaman was a Northerner.
The Lagos police command announced today it has arrested four suspects in connection with the killing.
The ICIR gathered that the Chairman of the Lagos State Taskforce, Chief Superintendent Shola Jejeloye, today, directed his team to conduct a raid on illegal commercial motorcyclists operating in the Lekki area where Imoh was killed. The operation lasted four hours and began in the early hours of the day.
The murder of Imoh and the consequent arrest of okada riders marked a resumption of the Lagos Taskforce’s raids of ‘okada’ riders, who have become notorious for flouting traffic laws, riding recklessly, causing serious accidents and confronting security agents.
The riders now populate every area in Lagos State in their thousands, especially the metropolis, many of them teenagers. Most of them are confirmed to be unskilled and uneducated Northern immigrants continuously being transported by trailers from the North into Lagos, with their motorcycles in tow, to do the commercial motorcycle business in Lagos.
The riders have shown no respect for traffic laws, and have been daring security agents in efforts to contain their excesses. They have also cultivated the temerity to band together to beat, and in cases like the Imoh incident, kill motorists and other citizens with whom they have any disagreement.
In Lagos, ‘okada’ riders have become a terror.
The state government’s efforts to control them have been fruitless. On January 27, 2020, the Lagos State government proscribed the operations of commercial motorcycles and tricycles (keke NAPEP) in six local government areas (LGAs), nine local council development areas (LCDAs) and 10 major highways across the state, with effect from February 1, 2020.
The state government directed security operatives to embark on a total enforcement of the State’s Transport Sector Reform Law of 2018 to immediately address the chaos and disorderliness created by illegal operations of okada and tricycle riders in restricted areas.
Besides, the government also banned ‘okada’ and tricycles from plying 40 bridges and flyovers across the state.
The Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, who made the announcement at the State House in Alausa, said the measures were taken by the government in response to “scary figures” of fatal accidents recorded from operations of ‘okada’ and tricycles in the state between 2016 and 2019.
Omotoso said the lack of regard for the Lagos Traffic Laws by the okada and tricycle riders had resulted in “preventable” loss of lives, adding that their impermissible movements on restricted highways had also contributed to traffic jams.
The commissioner revealed that over 10,000 accidents, many of them resulting in deaths, were recorded at the General Hospitals alone from ‘okada’ and tricycles.
Efforts by the Taskforce to implement the traffic law and arrest erring riders had led to crisis after crisis in Lagos. In November 2020, scores of commercial motorcyclists clashed with the taskforce while the latter were enforcing the law.
In a video that went viral, the okada riders were seen chasing a patrol team with dangerous weapons, while armed policemen attached to the enforcement team of the task force were also seen running for safety as they resisted shooting at the mob.
The riders also descended on some BRT buses, which they pelted with stones, and made bonfires on the BRT lanes, forcing the BRT to temporarily halt operation.
In 2021, the state government expressed readiness to renew enforcement on the ban of ‘okada’ riders who continued to flaunt the law. At the beginning of 2022, no fewer than 1,654 commercial motorcycycles plying government restricted routes were impounded within a month.
But there had again been a lull as ‘okada’ riders can always be seen operating on roads where they had been banned, like the Ikorodu Road-Mile 12-Ojota stretch, the Orile-Mile 2-Badagry expressway and Oshodi-Mile 2 expressway.
They will also always be seen on the bridges and flyovers where the law prohibits them from plying.
The ‘okada’ riders also have no respect for the wrong-way (one-way) traffic rule as they brazenly face oncoming vehicles who are on their right path, daring the drivers to hit them, just as the traffic lights are meaningless to them.
In Lagos, ‘okada’ riders are a law unto themselves. They are actually the law
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