Police Harass, Brutalise Us On Unrestricted Roads – Okada Riders - Simply SAMAD

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Friday, November 16, 2012

Police Harass, Brutalise Us On Unrestricted Roads – Okada Riders

Some men of the Lagos State Police Command and task force enforcing the state traffic law on okada riders in Ojodu and Berger area now employ brutal tactics to arrest riders who violate the law, findings by PUNCH Metro have shown.

Our correspondents, who went around spots that served as okada parks in Isheri, a police van marked ‘Magodo GRA Phase II Residents Association Security Patrol Van’ swung by a motorcyclist riding along the road and hit him.

The rider fell into a ditch beside the road and the motorcycle fell on him.
The policemen jumped down from the van, pointed their guns at the rider as one of them immediately took the motorcycle and mounted it.

The rider, who sustained injuries on his head and leg, climbed onto the police van while one of the policemen rode the motorcycle behind.

Residents of the area said the incident was a common occurrence in the area.

Some of the riders, who spoke with our correspondent on Thursday, also accused the state task force of arresting and impounding motorcycles on roads that were not classified as out of bound to okada.

A group of okada riders on Kosoko Street, off Ogunnusi Road, Ojodu, said even though the street was not “off limit,” the Lagos task force had on many occasions impounded motorcycles on the street.

One of the riders, Ibrahim Adejobi, said, “After the vandalisation of a BRT bus on November 7 by some okada riders, the task force came here with a Black Maria and confiscated every motorcycle in sight irrespective of whether it was commercial or private.

“Since that day, it was like they renewed their wickedness. Any motorcycle close to the Kosoko Junction, even if the motorcycle is not plying the Ogunnusi Road, would be impounded.

“There was a time a motorcyclist at the junction saw them and sped into the street. They chased and impounded the motorcycle. They then proceeded to impound every motorcycle they saw on Kosoko Street that day.

A store owner at Ojodu, Caroline Ugwu, said that in the last two weeks, she had witnessed the brutality of task force members about four times in the front of her store.

An okada rider, who identified himself simply as Abubakar, said one of his friends sustained a serious injury when a van used by task force officials knocked him down while trying to impound his motorcycle.

“He sustained a burn from the motorcycle’s exhaust pipe when he was knocked down and the okada fell on his leg. They did not even care. They took the motorcycle and put it in their Black Maria and left,” he said.

Okada riders in Magodo GRA Phase II and its environs also lamented police harassment on routes that okada were not prohibited.

An okada rider, Ola Ishola, at the Magodo Phase II gate park said the police attached to the Ogudu Area Command had made it a daily routine to impound motorcycles in the outlying streets in the area.

He said, “Despite the fact that we ply Cele, Love All,  Aladelola,  Oluwalogbon,  Dairo and Makinde streets, which are not part of the restricted routes, policemen still come into these  places to harass us.

“These policemen usually come into these streets with rented commercial buses and as soon as they come, they will impound our motorcycles and whisk away the riders to their station.

“At the station, they will demand for sums between N10,000 and N20,000 while threatening to take the okada to Alausa unless their demand is met.”

Another rider in the area, Mohammed Isa, said the constant harassment had made many of them sustained various injuries in an attempt to evade arrest.

He said, “I wonder why people brazenly derive pleasure in meting out degrading and inhuman treatment to fellow human beings. For crying out loud, we are not contravening any section of the traffic law, yet they still harass us.

“The last time they stormed our park, about three of us got injured when they started hitting us with their gun butts.

“Even while riding on the road, they don’t bother if we are carrying passengers or not. They simply double park their vehicle sometimes, hit us and wound our passengers.  We now live in perpetual fear despite operating lawfully on the road.”

In Isheri, residents said since the incident of November 7, when policemen attached to the state task force embarked on indiscriminate clamp down of okada, commercial motorcycle riders no longer operate in the area.

A resident, Segun Joshua, said, “On November 7, those policemen even went to the extent of impounding motorcycles parked inside residential apartments.

“Now you can hardly see an Okada plying inner streets of Isheri, Olowora, UNILAG Estate, Gateway Estate area and its environs. Government should really intervene and restore normalcy.”

When contacted, the police officer in charge of the task force, Mr. Bayo Sulaiman, said on the phone that the day the BRT was vandalised, some okada riders who fled into different streets were the ones arrested.

Sulaiman said, “We are talking about motorcycles that have two wheels.

How do you arrest riders without them falling down especially when they are trying to evade arrest?

“This country cannot develop when people keep opposing good things. All these reports that the task force is being brutal are just ploys to oppose the law which we all know is a good thing. The chairman of the riders’ association in the areas you mentioned knows the truth.

“About the policemen from Magodo Phase II who you say knocked down the okada rider, I cannot comment on that since that was not done by our task force.”

But the Police Public Relations Officer, Ngozi Braide, was not available for comment when contacted.

After calls and text messages were sent to her phone, an assistant, who answered her phone, said she was “on air.”

However, subsequent calls were not answered.

Source: PUNCH


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