Some leaders of the Hausa community in Lagos State have appealed to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to reverse the ban on Okada operations in six local government areas of the state.
The leaders, who spoke in separate interviews with PUNCH Metro, on Wednesday, said Okada riders who hail from northern Nigeria contribute significantly to the voting population of Lagos and should not be economically strangulated.
Sanwo-Olu had on Wednesday banned the operations of commercial motorcycle riders in six Local Governments and nine Local Government Development Areas in the state.
The affected councils are Eti-Osa, Ikeja, Surulere, Lagos Island, Lagos Mainland and Apapa.
The governor said, “We will not sit back and watch criminally-minded people use that mode of transportation (motorcycles) to perpetrate crimes and criminality in Lagos. Lives are being lost on a daily basis, preventable accidents are happening every day and the riders are not respecting any of our traffic laws.
“The situation has led to a complete breakdown of law and order. This ban has come to stay and we will not tolerate any weakness in enforcement.”
But the Seriki of Obalende, Saliu Waziri, told PUNCH Metro that the government should rethink its decision.
Waziri said the government should instead get the data of Okada riders in Lagos to fish out any intruder or criminally-minded fellows.
He said, “This issue has taken us a long time and we have been trying to put our members on the line. I want to advise the government to rethink its decision because Lagos can’t operate without bikes because of traffic. Government should register Okada riders in each local government to know those working in any local government. By so doing, the government would know who to pick when any issue arises.
“Some of our members stay here in Lagos and vote during elections. That should count for something because we contribute to votes during elections. The government should change the system of Okada riders not stopping them.”
Waziri, however, ruled out the possibility of taking any legal action against the state government.
The Seriki Hausa of Ajah, Ibrahim Ngoma, agreed with his Obalende counterpart that the government should consider the voting population of Hausa Okada riders in Lagos.
“Truth be told, Governor Sanwo-Olu has been understanding with Okada people unlike Governor (Babatunde) Fashola. Okada members should obey the law while I appeal to Governor Sanwo-Olu to look into the matter and lift the ban before the election because the ban is affecting my people,” he said.
Also, another leader of the Hausa community in Lagos, Iliyasu Kira, in a telephone interview with The PUNCH on Wednesday, pleaded with Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to reverse the ban.
According to the Seriki Hausa in Shasha in the Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos, the voting population of the Hausa Okada riders in Lagos is not something the government want to joke with.
He said, “I appeal to the government to leave Okada riders to continue their operations. These Okada riders help the government during elections with votes. Our voting population in Lagos constitutes over 2.7 million because most of us vote here in Lagos. We are not all bad people.
“Many of our people are Okada riders in Lagos. If the government claims that robbers are rampant among Okada riders, then the government should sieve out the criminals. The government should provide replacement for our members affected by the ban.
“We don’t have the power to start any legal case with the government. This is why I am appealing with the government to reconsider the ban.”
Criminals won’t be allowed in other LGs – Okada union
Meanwhile, the Amalgamated Commercial Motorcycle Owners and Riders Association of Nigeria, said the ban does not affect its members.
“Those six local governments you mentioned, we, ACOMORAN do not operate there. So, we are not affected. We operate in eight local governments in Lagos,” the Lagos chairman of the association, Olaoluwa Ogundare, told our correspondent in a telephone interview.
Speaking on the possible exodus of Okada riders from the affected areas to ACOMORAN’s territory including the Alimosho LGA, Ogundare said, “Our members are all registered and easily identified when they commit any atrocity. We also issue identity cards to them. Majority of the Hausa people affected are not registered. Those who want to move to our zone must register; we must have their data because we don’t want anyone to implicate us.”
The governor’s directive followed the killing of a sound engineer, identified simply as David.
David was allegedly beaten and set ablaze last weekend by suspected motorcyclists in the Admiralty area of Lekki in Lagos.
PUNCH Metro gathered that the engineer’s colleagues, Frank, a saxophonist, and Philip, a keyboardist, boarded a motorcycle to a venue on Admiralty Way where David was setting up for a show.
The motorcyclist was said to have conveyed the duo to the destination when an argument bordering on N100 ensued between the motorcyclist and David’s friends.
The argument was said to have degenerated into a fight, as the motorcyclist sought the support of other motorcyclists, who intervened in the matter.
During the intervention, the motorcyclists were said to be attacking Frank and Philip when David was alerted to the incident.
In a bid to rescue his friends, David rushed out of the venue.
But as he got to the scene of the attack, the motorcyclists allegedly seized and beat him till he became unconscious and died.
The government later said it seized over 100 bikes even as the deceased wife demanded justice.