No road: Police stop ‘okada’ protest against traffic law in Lagos

File: Okada man getting arrested by police

Men of the Lagos State Police Command on Monday halted a protest march by commercial motorcycle riders who took to the street to protest against the state traffic law.

Hundreds of commercial motorcycle riders and members of civil society groups had gathered at the Labour House, Olajuwon Street, Yaba, as early as 8am to hold a protest march down to the Lagos State Secretariat, Alausa.

Joint Action Front, the organiser of the rally, said the march was to protest against the restriction of commercial motorcyclists, from about 475 inner roads in the state.

But, the protest march was truncated as a detachment of policemen led by the state Deputy Commissioner of Police, Operations, Mr. Tunde Sobulo, stopped the demonstrators.

The protesters had barely marched over 200 metres on Ojuelegba Road when the armed policemen closed in on them.

Sobulo halted the march after appealing to them to shelve the march, adding that there was a probability that the protest might be hijacked.

“We are appealing to you. Please let some delegates of the executive move to the police headquarters, meet with the CP (Commissioner of Police) and discuss your grievances with him,” Sobulo said.

After the protesters were blocked from moving further, the leaders of the okada riders, JAF, and other civil society groups held a brief meeting and subsequently called off the protest.

“The mass action will be a continuous one. We will go back and restrategise, after holding a crucial meeting of stakeholders,” National Secretary of National Conscience Party, Ayodele Akele, said.

But, the protest leaders alleged that two executive members of the motorcycle unions, Simeon Aremu and Yusuf Oladimeji, were arrested by the police while distributing leaflets preparatory to the protest.

Chairman, Okada Riders Stakeholders Forum, Lagos State, Tony Keroro, said the protest was organised to register their displeasure over unjust provisions of the traffic law.

He said, “During the series of public hearings held before the law was enacted no mention was made about inner roads.

“It was only the highways that were deliberated at those hearings. Including it in the law without wide consultations is not only unfair but wicked and fraudulent. The state government should look into our complaints.”

Chairman, All Nigerian Auto-bike Commercial Owners and Workers Association, Aliyu Wamba, lamented that the police had under the guise of enforcing the law unleashed brutality on them.

“We can’t keep mum while our members who ply unrestricted routes would continue to fall victim of police shooting all in the name of traffic law. This law has done more harm than good to us,” Wamba said.

General Secretary JAF, Abiodun Aremu, said apart from the unjust provisions of its implementation, the law was also “very selective.”

He said, “The law did not only restrict commercial motorcycles but also barred carts and tricycles from the 475 roads.

“But what we have seen is a deliberate clampdown on okada riders while cart pushers and tricycle riders operate unhindered without any harassment.”

Punch Newspapers

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