STAKEHOLDERS in Lagos State have urged the government to take stringent measures to address the menace of kidnapping, robbery, cult clashes and violent assaults and curb the atrocities of commercial motorcyclists, otherwise known as okada riders.
In a 12-point resolution, they also urged the government to take over abandoned/uncompleted buildings immediately, as well as take control of abandoned vehicles in the nooks and seal off houses, hotels and events centres where hoodlums hibernate or where arms are stored, across the state.
These calls were made at a meeting on security held at the Adeyemi Bero Hall, Alausa, Ikeja, where Governor Babajide SanwoOlu and heads of security agencies alongside other relevant stakeholders highlighted security challenges confronting the state.
Other stakeholders present included the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Honourable Mudashiru Obasa; Chief Judge, Justice Kazeem Alogba; members of the state executive council; members of the Body of Permanent Secretaries; Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu; local government chairmen; labour union leaders; religious leaders; military chiefs; traditional leaders; community leaders and students.
The stakeholders noted that the action against the menace of okada riders become necessary, especially after the #EndSARS crisis in October 2020, as many of them had become security threats to citizens in the state. In particular, they noted that riders perpetrate crimes, disregard traffic and highway laws, traumatise motorists, aid and abet criminal activities such as carjacking, convey arms, aid kidnapping, cultism and espionage activities on security agencies, among others, even as they expressed displeasure at what they described as the “avoidable loss of lives and properties due to the menace of the motorcyclists. According to them, “okada riders featured in 218 serious crimes between January and April this year.”
On the takeover of uncompleted buildings, undeveloped plots, among others, the stakeholders said most of the buildings had become homes to hoodlums, cultists, armed robbers and other criminals, adding that abandoned vehicles are also being used to store arms and ammunition.
Speaking at the parley, Governor Sanwo-Olu listed his administration’s efforts on security and assured that a decisive action would be taken on okada menace in the state.
The governor said he will inaugurate the First and Last Mile buses next week, which will ply the routes the motorcycles are currently plying. He expressed disgust at the string of lawlessness being witnessed on a daily basis from the confrontation between commercial motorcyclists and law enforcement agencies.
“We have noted with dismay the fact that okada riders are disregarding and flouting the restrictions we imposed on their activities in certain areas of the metropolis. We have also observed with dismay, the ongoing violent confrontation by commercial motorcyclists against our law enforcement agencies.
“Based on all that, we have seen and experienced in the past couple of weeks, as well as the increasing threat posed by the activities of commercial motorcycle operators to the safety and security of lives. We will be announcing further changes to the parameters of motorcycle and tricycle operations in the state in the coming days. No society can make progress amid such haughty display of lawlessness and criminality,” Sanwo-Olu said.
He further promised that the government will fully implement the Urban and Regional Planning and Development Law of 2019 as amended, saying this will enable the government to take over and demolish abandoned buildings and construction sites turned into haven for hoodlums and miscreants.
He also reiterated plans by the government to strengthen its clean-up exercise of shanties and spots unapproved for settlement, but which had turned to hideouts for criminals. Appraising security situation in the state, Commissioner of Police, Mr Hakeem Odumosu, raised the alarm over rising security breaches resulting from the menace of okada operations in the state.
Between January and early this month, Odumosu disclosed that 320 commercial motorcycles were arrested in 218 cases of criminal incidents in which 78 suspects were detained and 480 ammunition recovered.
In the same period, the Lagos police boss said okada accounted for 83 per cent of 385 cases of avoidable fatal vehicular accidents in the state. He revealed that the security agencies are on top of threats by agitators of Oodua Republic and the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) to disrupt law and order and attack soft targets in the state.
He said so far, 24 of the Oodua separatists groups had been identified and closely being monitored, adding that the threat of IPOB to attack soft targets in Lagos is equally being addressed with strategies to neutralise their activities mapped out. Addressing the complaints about criminals hiding in uncompleted buildings and abandoned vehicles within communities, vice chairman of Lagos State Community Development Advisory Council, Mr Rotimi AyokuOwolawi, said the council is ready to support the government and the police in identifying dark spots and lock-up markets from where criminals launch their nefarious activities. Commissioner for Information, Mr Gbenga Omotoso, speaking at the end of the meeting, described the engagement as proactive, given a string of security breaches in the country.
“We don’t want our Lagos to become an epicentre of evil and criminality,” Omotoso said. At the end of the stakeholders’ meeting, a 12-point resolution was reached and agreed upon by the participants in public interest.