Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Protest day 2: One Okada rider feared dead…As protesters destroy another LAGBUS bus
LAGOS — An unidentified commercial motorcycle operator, popularly called Okada rider was allegedly killed in the early hours of yesterday, at Pen Cinema, Agege, area of Lagos State, when men of the Nigerian Police attached to the state’s security outfit, Rapid Response Squad, RRS, accosted the victim while he attempted to evade arrest.
The Okada riders in the state continued their protest yesterday at Kola Bus Stop, on Lagos-Abeokuta Express way, damaging a LAGBUS bus.
Similar incident happened at Ikotun Ejigbo Road as Okada riders blocked the major highway with burning tyres to register their displeasure over what they termed indiscriminate arrests and extortion by men of the Nigeria police and the new road traffic law banning their activities from 475 roads in the state.
It would be recalled that the Okada riders on Monday, resorted to violent protest across the state, vandalising Bus Rapid Transit, (BRT) and LAGBUS buses operating on Ikorodu Road.
According to an eyewitness who identified himself as Rasaq, the late Okada rider was hit by the men of the RRS at Pen Cinema while trying to escape with his motorcycle from being impounded by the security officers.
Rasaq, who spoke in Yoruba,narrated: “As the Okada rider was trying to evade arrest from the police, he quickly diverted his motorcycle towards Ogba-Ijaiye Housing Estate. The men of the RRS also did not retreat, they continued the chase. During the process, one of the police officers hit the rider with his baton and he collapsed immediately.
“On seeing his helpless body on the ground, operators of tricycles, popularly called “keke NAPEP,” quickly rushed him to the nearest hospital.”
The protesters chanted anti-war songs and increased their activities to adjoining bus stops on the axis.
According to another eyewitness, Mr. Godwin Udofia, the situation began as early as 9:00 am with the protesters armed with stones and other equipment. The scabs among the operators who did not join in the protest were also attacked with stones.
The situation resulted in hundreds of commuters being stranded at different bus stops, as heavy traffic gridlock was experienced on the ever busy Ikorodu Road.
Meantime, the state chapter of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, has appealed to residents not to allow themselves to be used by desperate politicians to cause chaos in the state in the name of protesting against the ban of commercial motorcycle operations in some parts of Lagos.
The party made this appeal in the wake of the attacks on government vehicles and properties by people masquerading as commercial motorcycle operators.
The party urged law enforcement agencies to deal with those destroying government properties on the pretext of protesting ban on Okada operations.
In a release by the party’s Publicity Secretary, Joe Igbokwe, the ban on Okada operators was done in the best interests of the people at heart.
......BY OLASUNKANMI AKONI AND MONSOR OLOWOOPEJO/VANGUARD NEWSPAPERS