The sound of gunshots rent the air yesterday, in Idi-Araba, Mushin, Lagos when commercial motorcyclists, popularly known as Okada riders clashed with officials of Lagos State Task Force over enforcement of the state’s ban on their operations.
The tear gas shots and sound of gunshots forced many shop owners to close as early as 1:30 p.m. while residents scampered to safety.
The Guardian learnt that the Okada riders had tried to resist the Task Force, who came in four-patrol vans from impounding their motorcycles around Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) the area of Idiaraba, but were outnumbered and tear-gassed.
It was said that the Okada riders resisted them and challenged the battle-ready officers, saying that Mushin was not part of the local councils mentioned by the governor in the ban.
Contacted, the spokesperson for the Task Force, Gbadeyan Abdulraheem, denied that the men shot in the area, but insisted they were carrying out government’s directive to get Okada riders off the area.
Asked if Mushin Local Council was not part of the areas mentioned by the Lagos state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu in the ban, he said: “There has been a law banning Okada operations in the state since 2018, so, the current ban did not invalidate the previous one. So, the law is still in force.
“We have increased our surveillance to checkmate the influx of Okada riders into the state from other African countries. Most of the Okada riders in Lagos are not Nigerians.
“We have seen the evil people accommodating them and what that can do to our country. They can run over our country, because these men know every nook and cranny.
“When these so-called Okada men hit a motorist from behind and he comes down to challenge them, they will call for their members and start destroying the vehicle.
“Nigerians have been so tolerant and now we have to discourage them from creating problems. They are no longer doing shoe shining; they just want to ride motorcycles. Before, we only arrested the Okada riders, but now we arrest both the Okada and their passengers to discourage them.”