The Lagos State Police Command has impounded over 12,000 motorcycles in less than two months since it began the enforcement of the ban on commercial motorcyclists from plying 475 roads in the state.
P.M.NEWS also gathered that the special court to try offenders located at the office of the Taskforce on Environmental and Special Offences (Enforcement) Unit has convicted over 50 riders arrested plying the prohibited routes.
Investigations revealed that the taskforce yard where the impounded motorcycles were dumped was filled with thousands of motorcycles while more places were being created to accommodate more.
A top police source told our reporter that over 12,000 motorcycles had so far been impounded by the various police divisions across the state in compliance with the traffic law restricting commercial motorcyclists from plying the prohibited routes.
Our source said motorcycles were still being impounded for violating the provisions of the traffic law, adding that the police would continue to clampdown on commercial motorcyclists until they stop plying the prohibited roads. Investigations also revealed that the police adopted several methods to arrest erring commercial motorcyclists plying the prohibited roads. Some of the law enforcement officers often appear in mufti and pose as passengers on the roads to arrest offenders who are immediately taken to the taskforce office for prosecution.
On Tuesday, some commercial motorcyclists were arrested at Ketu, Ojota, Obanikoro, among other places and brought to the taskforce office by the police to be arraigned in court.
When P.M.NEWS visited the taskforce office at Alausa, Ikeja to seek clarification on the fate of the riders arrested across the metropolis for violating the law, Taskforce Chairman, Bayo Sulaiman, a Superintendent of Police, confirmed that erring commercial motorcyclists were usually arraigned in court after their motorcycles had been impounded.
He said this was the provision of the traffic law, adding that any commercial motorcyclist found guilty would be made to pay a fine of N20,000 or sentenced to do community service in some areas of the state.
According to him, over 50 riders had so far been convicted by the court. “Some were asked to pay N20,000; others were sentenced to do community service in some areas of the state. Some of them were sentenced to do community service for 15 hours yesterday at the Old People’s Home, Yaba,” he stated.
The task force chairman said the government decided to charge the riders to court to serve as a deterrent to others.
Sulaiman lamented that some motorcyclists were still plying Ikorodu road, one of the routes listed in the traffic law where they cannot operate. He warned that his men would soon move in and arrest them. He pleaded with the riders to stay off the prohibited roads in their own interest as anyone arrested would be dealt with.
Sulaimon also confirmed that the rider who stripped himself naked on Acme Road, Ogba after he was arrested for violating the traffic law has been convicted by the court and sentenced to two months imprisonment with an option of N30,000 fine.
Meanwhile, the O’odua Nationalist Coalition (ONC), a body representing various Yoruba ethnic groups, on Tuesday urged states in the South-West to ban commercial motorcycles popularly called ‘Okada’ in their capitals.
Mr. Sunday Agbana, the ONC Coordinating Chair, gave the position of the group while addressing newsmen in Lagos on the restriction of commercial motorcycles in some parts of the state.
He said that the step should culminate in a total phase out of motorcycles as means of transportation in the region.
“We call on South-West states including Ekiti, Oyo, Ogun, Osun, Ondo, Kwara and neighbouring states of Delta and Edo, to follow the examples of Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt, where Okada has been banned in the capitals.
“The long term plan must be to stop the usage of Okada as a means of transportation in the entire South-West region,” he said.
Agbana said that there was a need for states in the region to urgently consult with the Federal Government to deal with the chains of illegal migration into Nigeria from troubled zones in Africa.
The ONC coordinator observed that such illegal migration into Southern Nigeria states had serious implications.
He said that many had been moving from Mali, Mauritania, Southern Sudan and Chad to Lagos and other South-West states.
“There are no records of these immigrants; there are no data on them and they can commit crime and vamoose.
“The easiest job available to them in Nigeria is Okada,” he said.
According to him, there is a serious negative impact on utilities in the South-West which will get worse if the huge migration continues.
He said that the disclosure by the Lagos State Police Commissioner that 98 percent of crimes in Lagos were committed by Okada riders further underscored the need to address the issue.
Agbana urged the governments of the South-West states to have a long term plan of five years to phase out Okada as a means of transportation in the region.
“Okada riders should be divided into cooperatives with a life span of five years, after which the money contributed by each rider will be converted into returns and investment enough for them to start a new life,” he said.
The ONC coordinator commended the Lagos State Government’s restriction of Okada in some specific routes across the state.
“This will increase the wellbeing and prosperity of the people of Lagos,” he said.
He also urged Okada riders to support the initiative and diversify their business.
“This is the only way out; wanton destruction of public utilities by some Okada riders that went on rampage recently in Lagos following their restriction is counter-productive,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that the commercial motorcycles were restricted in 475 roads in Lagos in accordance with the new Traffic Law in the state.