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DPA indicts Lagos Police, LASTMA over illegally confiscated Okadas

Source: pointblanknews.com

Democratic Peoples' Alliance (DPA) has asked the Lagos State Government and the Police Commissioner, Mr. Marvel Akpoyibo, to return hundreds of commercial motorcycles impounded before the September 1 date fixed for the commencement of new rules for Okada riders in the state.

The party accused zealous police officers and Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) men of violating the law by way-laying cyclists on Lagos highways and dispossessing them of their machines, well ahead of the official August 31 deadline.

“Policemen and agents of the government clearly compromised their own rules by preemptively seizing motorcycles plying the highways last month. This is an illegality. Operating a law before its announced commencement amounts to ambushing and it has no place in law. Police and LASTMA have simply indulged in executive lawlessness and must be made to return such impounded motorcycles free of charge,” Lagos DPA said in a statement by its Director of Publicity, Felix Oboagwina.

The party warned the Lagos Commissioner of Police, Mr. Marvel Akpoyibo, against condoning the illegalities perpetrated by his men, saying it was annoying that he even defended their illegalities. The party cited Akpoyibo's “indefensible, insensitive and reckless” position on the over 48 people killed at a police roadblock on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway earlier in August.

The party reported witnessing the impounding of Okadas in Oshodi last week by unscrupulous officers operating in vehicles marked OPMESA, RRS and LASTMA. They also seized motorcycles in Alimosho, Ikeja and other areas in the last fortnight.

“Lagosians will also like to know if the State House of Assembly has changed its mind and has now enacted an enabling law for the new Okada rules,” the party said. “Last time, the House of Assembly asked the government to stay action on the new regulations.”

The party asked the Police Commissioner and the LASTMA authorities to carry out investigations and ensure they brought to book any of their men found to have levied between N10,000 and N20,000 usually extorted from desperate Okada owners.

DPA also wanted the government to educate its men against infringing the highway movement of dispatch riders and those using cycles for purely personal and official purposes, once they complied with the relevant laws.

In view of the new rules banning Okada from conveying pregnant women and school children, the party asked the government to immediately commence a quick response ambulance service for pregnant women in labour and a comprehensive transport scheme that would cater for school children, especially in suburban and rural areas.

Those involved in the illegal arrests included LASTMA, police and Rapid Response Squad personnel, that carted away such seized motorcycles to unknown places in lorries, vans and commercial buses.

While commending the government for excluding the outright banning of Okada in Lagos State, DPA however urged the government to create an enabling environment for the operators.

“Whether we like it or not, Okada has become a veritable industry in Nigeria. It is fulfilling a very significant need in the black hole of transportation and employment inadequacies bedeviling Lagos. Moreover, motorcycles provide employment for unskilled labour and graduates alike, so it is not an industry to be discarded or treated with disdain,” the party said. “Many operators find the job adequate to meet their daily needs and for maintaining an acceptable standard of living.”

In addition to making helmets compulsory for passenger and riders, the state government had directed that riders must not convey pregnant women, children and more than one passenger per trip, apart from obtaining the state-approved card.

On the new rules, the party warned that indiscriminate arrest of Okada operators would create unnecessary tension, heighten unemployment and increase crime wave, ultimately.