Oke-Afa boils as task force impounds 48 okadas

Oke-Afa Ajao Estate link bridge, popularly known as Canoe swept clean of roadside traders and okada riders yesterday

Oke-Afa Ajao Estate link bridge, popularly known as Canoe swept clean of roadside traders and okada riders yesterday

Oke-Afa area of Ejigbo Local Council Development Area of Lagos was on Wednesday night and yesterday morning a no-go area, as men of the Lagos State Taskforce on Environmental and Special Offences Unit clamped down on illegal commercial motorcyclists in the area. The enforcement action, which saw to the arrest of over 48 motorcycles (popularly called okada) and 15 offenders threw the area into crisis lasting till Thursday afternoon.

The Guardian gathered that men of the taskforce began a rare law enforcement operation around Jakande Gate, inwards Oke-Afa and Ajao-estate end late Tuesday, to dislodge street traders and commercial motorcyclists that have turned the link-bridge into a haven.

Apparently caught unawares, several of the Okada riders were soon rounded up in the coordinated enforcement operation. Eyewitness said some of the riders that were able to evade arrest but who lost their motorcycles soon regrouped and launched an attack on the taskforce team. “The Hausa boys (Okada riders) started throwing stones at the police and destroying their vehicles,” Ngozi, who trades in recharge cards, said.

Another source recounted that handguns, machete and stones were freely used in the reprisal attack as pedestrians and motorists scampered for safety. In defence, the armed officials of the taskforce also fired several canisters of tear-gas to suppress their assailants.

Public Relations Officer of the taskforce, Taofiq Adebayo, told The Guardian that the enforcement was one of the routine exercises in the state, because the entire area (from NNPC to Oke-Afa inwards Ajao Estate) are restricted routes.

Okada riders are restricted from plying 475 roads out of the 9,100 roads in the metropolis in accordance with the Road Traffic Law of the state.

Adebayo, however, added that the degree of resistance and attack on their men was least expected, citing that “the Niger boys started shooting at policemen.” He said it was by God’s grace that they were able to leave the scene alive. “All our vehicles were vandalized, and one destroyed beyond repair. The head driver in that operation was severely injured.”

Executive Secretary of Ejigbo LCDA, Mr. Jaiye Alabi, said the assault was done by non-Nigerians. “They are aliens from Niger and Chad. The state government is aware of this situation and I can assure you there will be a permanent solution to this crisis. We won’t tolerate any breakdown of law and order,” he vowed.

It would be recalled that Oke-Afa was some months ago engulfed in crisis when rival ethnic unions clashed and destroyed several motorcycles and tricycles. Findings showed that nine out of every 10 motorcycles in the area have no number plate. They are marked in military colours and various initials and said to belong to military and police officers who use them for commercial business.

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