We now live in fear of attack by Okada riders after Sanwo-Olu’s ban –Lekki residents’ association chairman, Emadoye




We now live in fear of attack by Okada riders after Sanwo-Olu’s ban –Lekki residents’ association chairman, Emadoye

The Oniru of Iru Land, Oba Abdulwasiu Lawal Abisogun II, recently alerted residents of Lekki to possible attacks by commercial motorcyclists popularly known as okada riders in the area. The Chairman, Lekki Estates Residents and Stakeholders’ Association, Mr James Emadoye, speaks to GODFREY GEORGE about the residents’ response and their appeal to the government

What is the current security situation in Lekki following the recent ban on okada by the Lagos State Government?

Right now, we are living in total fear because the number of the okada riders has become really huge. The fear and problems with all this are that, unlike other Nigerians, these people go about with all manner of weapons – knives, daggers and guns – and the Nigeria Police do nothing about it. It is the basis of the fears we are living in. If an average southerner goes about with any of these weapons, they would have been long arrested. But these people go about with these weapons under their tomatoes, potatoes and okada, and the police do nothing about it. There are now so many in Lagos. Once there is a small infraction with one of them, within five minutes, the whole area will be filled with them in their hundreds. You will only be lucky to be saved.

A woman on Ado Road the other day told me that an okada rider, who rode against the traffic, hit her vehicle, and when she confronted him, fellow okada riders pursued her and burnt her vehicle. Nobody does anything about these things. It is the same story in Lekki Phase 1, where the late David Umoh was burnt to death by these people. He was not even the one on the okada, but he was burnt for simply coming to intervene. In Lagos, this shouldn’t be happening in a city that we know as the pride of the country. There is no other city like Lagos. It is the only city where people can come from any part of the country to struggle and make a living. It has now turned into a warfront. We thank God that the government has taken some decisive action. We are only praying that they are able to enforce it (the ban) in totality.


How did you receive the news that the okada riders were planning reprisals and were already blackmailing the governor into rescinding the ban by promising him massive votes in the coming elections?

This is the way the country is at the moment. Security is a major challenge. Whether they are giving threats or not, their presence alone is a sufficient threat to us. One of these days, I drove to Mile Two en route Agbara; the number of the okada people riding recklessly between Mile Two and the Trade Fair Complex is despicable. If there is a small hint of trouble, the whole of that area is finished because of the sheer volume of these okada riders. They are in their multitudes riding without recourse to traffic rules. The government is next to God. What does he (Sanwo-Olu) want to come back to govern if he does not take charge of the security of lives and properties in Lagos? From what we are seeing in this okada issue, there is a need to take some action. Electoral victory is nothing. It is just but for some time. Sanwo-Olu must do everything possible to ensure that his administration enforces the ban on okada.

Was this what informed your letter to the governor?

Yes, it was. The influx of Fulani, Nigeriens, Chadians and others into Lekki has come to a very dangerous point that we need to cry out. An okada rider will hit a vehicle with his okada and he’ll be the one to threaten the owner of the vehicle and even go as far as burning the vehicle if the owner insists that he should pay for the damage. We had to write to the governor on the menace for immediate action and for the government to implement the ban. We are hoping that this will be implemented and properly enforced.

Many Lagosians have said the ban is unfair on them as they may now have to trek long distances before getting commercial buses or cabs to their destinations. What is your response to this?

If you have travelled to major cities in the world, there are designated bus stops that are only 200 metres to 500 metres apart, depending on where you live. People do walk. It is good for life and health. Trek from your house to a designated bus stop, use the pedestrian bridge and take a bus to wherever you are going. But, we have lived our lives to a point where we want okada to pick us up from our doorsteps to wherever we are going. That is what is bringing about all this rubbish that we are seeing.

How about the issue of the unending traffic on the Lekki-Epe Expressway?

Such excuses are untenable. We should value our lives. We are talking and working with the government on how to alleviate the suffering of the people and how to improve the road and traffic movement, but we cannot encourage things that will make this city that we are proud of to become an Ajegunle of those days. We cannot turn Lagos into a ghetto. If we continue the way we are going and if the Lagos State Government is unable to enforce this ban on okada, Lagos will gradually turn into a jungle. We cannot allow that. We have put in so much investment in Lagos and the only thing Lagos can become is the centre of excellence and pride of Nigeria. From the airport, we need to do all we can so that the face of Lagos continues to look more like a mega city and one of the best cities in the world. We cannot achieve that if we continue to tolerate this level of encroachment of these okada riders.

Some people have said the okada riders should be registered by the government and operate with identity cards. Do you share this view?

The unfortunate thing is that people who are operating the okada are not educated. They do not reason with anyone; they do not want to understand you. You cannot explain yourself to them. Any explanation you give to them turns to an argument, and any argument turns to a fight, and any fight may result in being lynched or stabbed to death. We cannot turn Lagos into an animal city. Governor Sanwo-Olu has to try as much as he can to enforce it so that we can, at least, have some sanity in this state.

From the way it is today, the best thing is for them (okada riders) to leave the state entirely. If the government wants to adopt the registration process, then the people themselves must subject themselves to total verification. You cannot ride okada in Lagos with a knife under your bike. That is not possible. We have also seen that these okada riders have backing from the powers that be. Registration is a good idea but that is if you are able to ensure that you clean them off anything that has to do with weapons no matter how small.

The reason it will be difficult is that they do not value human lives. Even when one of them dies, it doesn’t mean anything to them. As far as they are concerned, when one is dead, one is gone. But, in the South, at least, we place some premium on life. That is the difference. We can do registration, but that will be with a total submission that they must agree not to go about with any form of weapon.

People are also saying that the okada riders are sometimes used as mercenaries for crimes. Do you share this sentiment?

That is the situation we have found ourselves in. It is what is confronting us on a daily basis. The reason we wrote the Save-Our-Soul letter to the governor was the same thing. Some of these okada riders also go into crime. We need to remember what happened during the xenophobia (attack protests). It was these boys that had the audacity to break into these malls to loot goods and vandalise properties. During the #EndSARS protests of 2020, the mall at Jakande has not been able to recover. It was closed. You can imagine the number of investments that have closed down there because of crime. This is the reason why the government must take appropriate action.

If you are a government and you cannot do this, I wonder what you will be able to do. It is the same for the whole country. We are praying seriously that whoever is going to come in 2023 should know what to do and have the favour of God to do the right thing. Otherwise, all the money that they are amassing all over the place will amount to naught if lives and property cannot be protected. Nobody eats money in the grave.

What plans have been put in place to resist the planned attacks if and when they come?


We in the LERSA are doing all we can from time to time. We have set up a security team around Lekki and we have a good relationship with the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, the Area ‘J’ Command, the LASTMA, the Federal Roads Safety Corps, among others, and we keep communicating with them on the need to beef up security in the area. But, I must be honest, with what I saw in Agbara days ago, Lagos is in trouble. The Federal Government cannot close its eyes on us. This is the only megacity in Nigeria and we must do all we can to protect it.

Close to 50 per cent of the vehicles in Nigeria are in Lagos. This is the same for businesses. As such, Lagos cannot be left to security threats. As you know, there are many businesses that are springing up in this area. There is the Dangote Refinery, the Deep Sea Port, the new international airport and all that cannot be left to suffer because of these security threats by miscreants.

By tmaq

TMAQ is a music & content promotion (A&R PR) | Digital and Social Media Marketer | tmaq4real@gmail.com|08134591329 Official P.R to AAR

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