How ‘Okada’ Riders Facilitate Criminal Activities In Nigeria

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The increasing wave at which motorcycle riders perpetrate crimes, using their machines as the easiest and safest means to escape is worrisome.
Many gunmen had after killing, escaped, using their bikes. Some have been robbing and escaping, using motorcycles. MATTHEW DIKE, looks at the scenarios, the victims and the effect of commercial motorcycle riders plying on restricted routes.

The fastest means of rushing to the office during traffic gridlock in Lagos State is no doubt motorcycle. Because of incessant traffic gridlocks in the state, many workers prefer to rush to their various offices and business places, using commercial motorcycles, especially when there is an emergency. Hence, commercial motorcycle operations became in vogue and the quickest way for a poor man to put food on the table for himself and his family.

Unemployment made the operators to increase to a high level while the issue of terrorism ( people fled from the states that were targets of Boko Haram insurgents) skyrocketed the business. Nigerians from all the states in the country are involved in this commercial motorcycle business in Lagos.

Foreigners are not left out as nationals of Mali, Niger and Chad who hide under the guise of Hausa are also involved in the commercial motorcycle operations in the City of Excellence called Lagos State. Critics are saying that the commercial motorcycle operators have caused more harm than good in the State. Even if it is a job provider, it is a killer.

Over hundred people have been sent to their early graves, both the riders and passengers, while the lucky ones were maimed  since the past one year in different fatal accidents. Some passengers later became prey to armed robbers because the rider is a member of a gang and stopped where his gang would come out to unleash terror on the passenger.

So many bank customers have been robbed by some riders who would pretend to be commercial motorcycle operators. Immediately a customer steps out of the bank and wanted to walk towards where he or she parked the car or walk towards the road, a hoodlum would come out from the blues and after tapping the customer from behind, pointed pistol at him or her.

The customer who still want to enjoy with his family in future would quickly hand over the cash to the hoodlum and watch him mount a waiting bike whose rider was roaring to go.  The motorcycle would zoom off and the customer’s hard – earned money has gone down the drain. The customer would shiver and curse but the money is gone!

There are other instances in which armed robbers dispossess their victims using motorcycles. There is a style called ‘Catch in the air’. In this case the hoodlums are usually one or two passengers plus the rider.  Their method of operation is simple – When they see anybody making call with a mobile phone they suspected to be expensive, the rider would slow down the bike and his passenger would grab it and zoom off on top speed.

To most victims, it usually happen like a dream or one of those thriller films they had watched before. Before it would dawn on them to shout the criminals had vanished into thin air. The same thing applies to people who carry bags, and dress in a way suggesting: ‘I have so much money’. These set of hoodlums that operate on motorcycle would snatch the bag and you can only weep and gnash your teeth.

The worst is the latest trend now in which many gunmen move around on motorcycles, looking for their prey. Within one month about eight people have been killed in Ajeromi- Ifelodun local government area, and motorcycles were involved to pave way for their easy escape in the different attacks. The most painful aspect is the snatching of a baby from her mother’s back in the locality and before the woman could say ‘Jack Robinson’, the baby is gone!

Who would she cry to? Who knows the hoodlums? Who knows the number of the motorcycle? Who will agree patriotically to say he saw and know these hoodlums?

Because of the criminal traits of some of the motorcycle riders, the Lagos State government placed a restrictive ban on them.

The Ex-governor Babatunde Fashola led Lagos State agovernment mapped out the area commercial motorcycle operators can operate and the areas they must not operate.

Since the policemen have been helping out, the crime in the state reduced, but Governor Akinwunmi Ambode led government seem to have developed nonchalant attitude towards it. Now the ‘bad boys’ are fully back! Roaring to kill and go! It is time the government wake up to its responsibility.

To say that most okada riders that operate , especially in Apapa are robbers is understatement. They rode against traffic even in front of the Apapa police Station. What did policemen do about it? Yes. In several occasions the divisional police officer in charge of Apapa police station, SP Rotimi Oduntona has led policemen and they had successfully impounded over 300 motorcycles and sent them to Alausa, in Ikeja – the place they suppose to drop impounded machines since the past two years.

People are saying the policemen have relaxed! The operators have bought new motorcycles and even invited their brothers and introduced into the business and the nooks and crannies of Apapa.

A landlord in Apapa, Chief James Omoloju said, “The policemen left these hoodlums to disturb the whole Apapa. The government has banned okada outright from operating in Apapa, Ikeja, Victoria Island, Ikoyi, FESTAC, Surulere, Anthony Village, among other areas. What are they still doing in Apapa? Who is collecting money from them? Council? or Agbero?  Something should be done very fast because these hoodlums on motorcycles have been robbing so many people in Apapa.

How many will I count. I cannot go to a bank in Apapa and withdraw money because they are monitoring everybody. They will break your windscreen and you will hand the money over to them. You have no choice unless you want to die,” Omolojo said.

The Lagos State commissioner of police, Mr Fatai Owoseni had said that over 80% of those who parade themselves as commercial motorcycle operator are robbers.

In Amuwo -Odofin local government, they usually break windscreens of cars and after robbing the occupants of the car, zoomed off on the motorcycle (s).  Especially, Apple Junction and along the Oshodi -Mile Two expressway. Inside FESTAC Town is not left out too. They usually operate in FESTAC Town after which they would escape on their ‘okada’.

Killing has increased in Ajegunle and its environs, Igando, Oshodi, Mushin, among others, because the hoodlums are not obeying the Lagos State traffic law.

One Ibrahim who was known to be a fish seller was shot dead early this last at Raliatu Street, Ajegunle,by four men who were said to have arrived the scene on two motorcycles.

LEADERSHIP Weekend gathered that Ibrahim who lived at Okito area in Ajegunle with his wife and two children went to Raliatu Street to see his parents and friends. He was outside discussing with one of his friends when suddenly, two motorcycles stopped in their front. Two were alleged to have pulled out their guns.

Ibrahim who was suspected to be a member of a cult group begged that he did not know what he had done to them. He pleaded with them not to kill him but an eyewitness said, “They first shot him four times. One of them asked his members to confirm if he is dead. Another fired another shot at him, all at close range. He died instantly and the perpetrators zoomed off.  The father of the deceased Ibrahim collapsed immediately he saw policemen taken the corpse of his son away.”

The third day, another incident occurred in Ajegunle in which gunmen arrived a popular hotel beside Boundary market and walked straight to a man named Samuel.  The hoodlums were said to have shot Samuel who was said to be a hairdresser who had his saloon at Nosamu Street, in Ajegunle and not far from the scene of shooting.

A police source attached to Ajegunle police station disclosed that, “After the gunmen shot the man dead in the bar around after 12 am, they dragged him out of the hotel and fired him again before they zoomed off from the scene.

Motorcycle Aided Armed Robbery

Armed robbers and policemen engaged themselves in exchange of gunfire around Odun- Ade market, in Amukoko area, recently.  The six- man gang was said to have arrived and waited for their target who came out from a new generation bank at Odun- Ade market. LEADERSHIP Weekend gathered that immediately the gang saw the bank customer, they  shot him and he died instantly, while the criminals carted away huge sum of money running into millions of Naira which he withdrew from the bank.

An inspector attached to the Mobile Police Force (MPF) 22, identified as Gabriel and others engaged the hoodlums in exchange of gunfire. When the dust settled, the inspector  was wounded in the hand and leg, while the police also wounded one of the three arrested suspects in the leg.

The six- man gang who came in two motorcycles and sat three in each of the machines zoomed off from the area and arrived Kola bus stop, along Oregie area of Ajegunle, they got the injured gang member off the motorcycle and after disarming him of his gun, attempted to kill him with it, but fortunately for him, the bullet hit an innocent automobile mechanic identified as Idris Taiwo, who was quickly rushed to Ajeromi General Hospital, where he gave up the ghost.

LEADERSHIP NEWS


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