The Arewa community in Lagos State has given backing to the state government’s policy which outlawed commercial motorcycle (okada) riders on several areas.
The community pledged to cooperate with the state government in conjuction with the Association of Arewa Okada Riders in the implementation of “extant rules and documentation of all riders in all Local Government Areas of Lagos State. We must have adequate data on everyone. We call on the Lagos State Government to be vigilant and take proper punitive measures on bad eggs within the security agencies”.
Last week, the state government reinforced its ban on okada in six Local Government Areas of Eti-Osa, Ikeja, Surulere, Lagos Island, Lagos Mainland, and Apapa, and nine Local Council Development Areas within their jurisdictions.
In a statement by the Secretary General of Lagos State Arewa Community (LASACOMM), Alhaji Musa Saleh following its General Assembly on Sunday, the group of ethnic nationalities from the north of Nigeria acknowledged that the law restricting okada operations in the state had been in existence for over 10 years.
According to the statement: “We resolved today unanimously that all our members must comply with the provisions of the laws of Lagos State. We are law abiding and we will always continue to intimate all our members to continue to be law abiding and operate only within the ambits of the law.
“We support all measures taken by the Lagos State Government in its efforts towards protecting lives and property of all Lagosians”.
The group condemned what it described as “all criminal elements who are mostly foreigners from Niger Republic, Chad, Cameroon and other neighbouring countries who have infiltrated the ranks of those genuine riders and thereby perpetrating all forms of crime in Lagos State and are constituting serious threats to the lives and property of Lagosians”.
LASACOMM then called on security agencies to identify and arrest “all those criminal elements masquerading as okada riders”.
It requested that the Nigeria Immigration Service should step up its actions along the border line in checking the influx of foreign elements coming into the country without genuine intention.
“We are in total commitment and support of the administrative policies of the Lagos State Government to get rid of all security threats in order to promote peace and tranquility, safeguard lives and property of Lagos and the massive provision and development of infrastructures facilities for all Lagosians.
“We are calling on all well meaning Arewa Community members to comply with our common resolve and avoid the Local Governments of Apapa, Surulere, Lagos Island, Lagos Mainland, Etiosa and Ikeja”, the group further said.
The community urged the state government to support its developmental programmes, which included registration, data generation and compliance monitoring; and the two-wheel to four-wheel upgrade programme at the same costs”.
After a meeting with the state’s Commissioner of Police Abiodun Alabi, Area Commanders and Divisional Police Officers at the State House in Alausa-Ikeja last Wednesday, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu directed security operatives to enforce the total ban of okada in six LGAs and nine LCDAs.
Sanwo-Olu explained that the government took the decision in line with its Transport Sector Reform Law of 2018 to immediately address the chaos and menace created by operations of okada in the listed areas.
He instructed the Police to enforce the order without compromise, sternly warning that the state government would not condone any security formation that relaxes the new ban in its jurisdiction.
He said: “This is a phased ban we are embarking on this period, and we expect that within the short while when this ban will be enforced, okada riders in other places where their activities are yet to be banned can find something else to do. We have given the notice now and we expect all commercial motorcycles plying the routes in the listed councils and areas to vacate the highways before enforcement begins. The enforcement will be total”.
Sanwo-Olu advised residents patronising okada riders on highways to embrace the alternative transport schemes already provided by the government to plan their journey, explaining that the government had provided Last Mile Buses, medium-capacity and high-capacity buses in the affected areas for the convenience of commuters.