Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State has placed a total ban on commercial motorcycle (okada) operation in Ikeja area of Lagos, Southwest Nigeria.
As a result of the ban, okada riders in Ikeja have sued the Lagos State Government for banning them from carrying out their legal trade at the Federal High Court, Ikeja, while the matter came up at the court on Wednesday.
As a result of the ban, okada operation in Ikeja has been paralysed, except for the few brave ones who dared to move as police are everywhere on the order of the Commissioner of Police to arrest any rider found operating in major roads in Ikeja.
Hundreds of motorcycles have been impounded by the police.
A statement issued by the Office of the Police Public Relations Officer, Lagos Police Command and signed by the head, Joseph Jaiyeoba, said the state government and the police took the decision to ban okada because of the high rate of robbery involving the use of okadas.
According to the statement issued the okada unions in Ikeja, the police stated that “due to increasing rate of criminality through the use of motorcycles, popularly known as okada, the Lagos State Government in collaboration with the Lagos State Police Command have decided to put a total ban on okada within Ikeja axis.”
The statement said no okada rider must be found in areas such as Oba Akran, Bank Anthony Way, Isaac John, Opebi Link Bridge, Adekunle Fajuyi Way, Acme Road, Alausa, Oregun, Simbiat Abiola Way and Kodeso Road with immediate effect.
Following the ban, okada operation has been restricted to inner and remote streets in Ikeja.
The police in Ikeja are aggressively enforcing the ban as several of them could be seen on almost every major road arresting okada riders.
Disenchanted by the ban, one of the two okada unions in Ikeja, the All Auto-bike Commercial Owners and Workers Association, ANACOWA took the Lagos State Government to court yesterday, praying the court to restrain the government from harassing them while carrying out their businesses.
Counsel to the okada riders,stated that the okada riders were suing the state government for infringing on their fundamental human rights, saying that government had no law governing the operation of okada riders, thus, it had no power to restrict them from carrying out their businesses.
He said the okada riders were praying the court to stop the government from banning them from doing their legal businesses.
The Ikeja Branch Chairman, Motorcycle Association of Lagos State, MOALS of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, Joseph Amadi, said the ban on okada might heighten insecurity in the state.
He stated that with the level of unemployment in the country, banning okada riders meant taking food from the mouth of their families and numerous dependants, while appealing to the government to rescind its decision.
“It is not the commercial motorcycle riders that are using them for robbing. Robbers just capitalise on it to escape fast after carrying out operation. The way the police are intensifying arrest of okada riders since the ban, if they have intensified efforts like this in curbing crime, they would have stopped this menace for long.
“Banning okada will have security implication. Police collect between N5,000 and N15,000 from us to get our bike released. Is government encouraging corruption? If government wants to ensure sanctity, they should allow only one okada union to operate in Ikeja,” he said.