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34 arrested, 2 vehicles burnt as ‘Okada’ riders, police clash again in Lagos

The enforcement of the restriction on the operations of commercial motorcycles (Okada) and tricycles (Keke) in some parts of Lagos State is proving a herculean task, as the Okada riders have for the second time this week, clashed with policemen enforcing the traffic laws.

The clash, at Aboru area of Iyana Ipaja, on Wednesday, resulted in the burning of a vehicle belonging to the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) and two patrol bicycles of the Lagos State Neighbourhood Watch.

No life was lost in the incident, but a police inspector identified as Salifu Umar was critically injured and taken to a hospital for medical attention.

Bala Elkana, spokesperson of the Lagos Police Command, who confirmed the incident, said 34 suspects have been arrested and 86 motorcycles impounded by the combined enforcement teams of the police and the Lagos State Taskforce on Environmental and Special Offences.

The first clash on Monday, January 3, had seen 24 suspected motorcycle riders arrested in the Ijora area of the metropolis. They were making bonfires on the road and protesting their ‘ban’ by the government when the police swooped on them.

The clash in Iyana Ipaja, yesterday, was said to have left economic activities in the area disrupted for some hours.

That happened, also, as the motorcycle riders have returned to the Mile 2 axis of Oshodi-Apapa, and Lagos-Badagry Expressways, where their operations are restricted. Several of them were seen on Wednesday picking and dropping off their passengers on the Mile 2 Bridge, while policemen watched helplessly.

The Iyana Ipaja protest, according to witnesses started when policemen attached to the Lagos State Taskforce moved to the area to enforce the restriction order. The riders were said to have revolted against them, forcing the police to apply force, as gunshots were heard.

The police, according to eye witnesses’ accounts, also fired tear gas canisters, as a result of which some passers-by scampering for safety received varying degrees of injuries.

Meanwhile, the Commissioner of Police (CP) in charge of the Lagos command, Hakeem Odumosu, has condemned the attack on police officers carrying out their lawful duties and vowed to bring the perpetrators to justice.

The restriction of the operations of the Okada and Keke in some parts of the state became effective on February 1. The state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu said on Tuesday that was no going back on it, as it is meant to address increased insecurity as well check loss of lives and property to avoidable accidents involving these modes of public transportation in the state.

JOSHUA BASSEY

 

 

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