The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has sealed five fuel stations in Makurdi, the Benue State capital for various forms of offenses such as hoarding, under dispensing and price fixing.
The exercise follows the refusal by independent marketers in Benue State to revert to the N86.50 control price which motorist describes as a good development.
While some of the fuel stations were forced to revert from selling at N140 to N86.50, five marketers who deliberately closed shop due to the control price enforcement exercise, had their premises sealed off.
After sealing five fuel stations across Makurdi metropolis, the DPR controller, Benjamin Ewuga, said that the price enforcement exercise would be carried out frequently.
The price enforcement exercise by the DPR received support from motorists and Okada riders who were seen celebrating the N86.50 price.
The Abia State government has given out vehicles free of charge to the youths of Ikwuano Local Government Area as a way of reducing unemployment and alleviating poverty.
According to Governor Theodore Orji, the gesture was to create jobs, reduce idleness and criminality, enhance the standard of living and minimise accidents associated to the use of motorcycles popularly known as Okada.
A total of 30 persons including youths and women benefited from the latest gesture of the State Government.
At a ceremony to mark the handing over of the vehicles to the new owners, the Governor met with traditional rulers, amidst cheers and accolade from the people of Ikwuano.
Governor Theodore Orji, shortly after inspecting and commissioning the vehicles stated that the empowerment programme had brought joy to Abians and also helped to curb youth restiveness in the state.
On the roads of Umuahia metropolis, some of the beneficiaries,who had put their vehicles to work, thanked the government for the gesture.
Meanwhile, from Ikwuano Local Government Area, the empowerment strategy of the government to reduce unemployment continued to Umuahia South LGA.
The Governor had said that it would be sustained until all the youths in the 17 Local Government could boast of means of livelihood thereby contributing their quota to the economic development of the State.
Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, has commissioned 300 “Comrade Cabs” to cushion the effects of the ban of commercial motorcycle in the State capital.
The cabs were purchased after an arrangement between the Edo State government and a bank. This will enable erstwhile motorcycle operators purchase the cabs with a payment plan of over three years.
Speaking at the commissioning, the governor said his most difficult decision as governor was banning the use of commercial motorcycles in the state capital.
He said: “I found myself taking a tough decision after repeatedly assuring Okada riders that Okada will not be banned in this state and when I said that, I meant it. Indeed, after my second tenure elections, I renewed that assurance and I know you were really shocked that after reassuring you repeatedly, you woke up one day to hear that the same comrade had decided to prohibit Okada and to give you a very short notice that was less than one week.
“That was a tough moment for me because I believe that as we say, those of us who are Christians say that there are moments of temptation. There are things in government that you are never able to disclose even as you are committed to accountability and transparency.
“When it became clear we had overwhelming majority of you honest, hardworking genuine Okada workers, labouring everyday to earn a living, we also found out that some criminals from some other states had infiltrated your ranks and in no time became even more in numbers. It was clear that many of the Okada riders didn’t know anywhere in Benin City, and clearly they were here for different reasons.”
He further declared: “The challenge for the decision maker is to see how you distinguish the genuine operatives from the criminals. That was a process that was physically impossible. I found myself having to say to you eyeball to eyeball, you no longer can drive commercial bikes in the city of Benin.”
After the commissioning, the Governor literally turned a taxi driver as he drove round Benin City, the state capital, picking passengers and dropping them at their destinations. Commercial motorcycle operators were banned in Benin City in June last year following security reports.
Two factions of the Amalgamated Commercial Motorcycle Riders Association Of Nigeria, ACOMORAN, have clashed at the premises of the federal high court in Abeokuta.
The crisis was said to have started when a former secretary of the association who is being investigated for alleged embezzlement, mobilized thugs from Ibadan and Igbo-ora areas of Oyo state to unleash terror on a faction led by the South West chairman of the association, Mr Samsondeen Apelogun on the premises of the court.
In the commotion that ensued, 25 members of the association were arrested by the Ogun state police command for disrupting public peace and order.
According to reports, the clash which could have resulted in a serious breakdown of law and order was averted by the combined men of the Nigeria Police, Department Of State Security, DSS, and men of the Nigerian Army.
Commercial motorcyclists, also called Okada riders, in Edo State have cried out to the state government over extortion and intimidation by alleged thugs in Benin City.
The motorcyclists stormed the Edo State Government House seeking clarification on whether or not the individuals collecting monies from them were agents of the government.
The cyclists claimed that they were regularly assaulted and beaten by thugs who also confiscate their motor bikes and demand that they paid monies ranging from N1,500 to N3,500 into certain bank accounts before they could retrieve their bikes. They also alleged that they were being forced by these persons to buy reflective vests from them at exorbitant prices.
The Chief of Staff of the Edo State Government, Patrick Obahiagbon who received the protesters said the state government did not subscribe to intimidation and was not involved in the said levies.
He promised to summon all the union members to resolve the controversy.
In order to reduce crime to a barest minimum, the Kwara state government has launched a single uniform for easy recognition and issuance of identity cards to commercial motorcycle riders in the state.
The commercial motorcycle riders which had several groups up to 67 were reduced to 7, and they are expected to ensure compliance with the traffic laws in the state especially the wearing of crash helmet and adhere to the one passenger per motorcycle rule.
The 4,000 capacity crowd of banquet hall of government house was filled and occupied by motorcycle riders across the sixteen local government areas of the state, as they thronged the venue to witness the launching of new uniform and identity cards for their operations.
Government officials at the occasion lamented the crimes being committed by some unscrupulous motorcycle riders in the past which they noted necessitated the need for a single uniform for the operators in the state.
They called on the recognized unions of motorcycles riders to collaborate with government in its bid to rid the state capital of hoodlums who hide under the guise of commercial riders to perpetrate crimes.
The state governor, Abdulfattah Ahmed represented by the state Head of Service Dabarako Muhammad assured of the readiness of the government to collaborate with relevant groups for the maintenance of peace and harmony in the state for the overall economic development of the state.
Government he added will provide soft loans for the riders in the New Year to improve their wellbeing.
With the registration of seven recognized motorcycle riders in the state, it is expected that the incessant robbery and kidnapping through motorcycle riders in Kwara state will now be a thing of the past.
The Chairman of the All Auto bike Commercial Owners and Workers Association of Nigeria (ANACOWA), Aliyu Wamba, on Tuesday said the restriction of commercial motorcycles, popularly called Okada from some routes in Lagos is a ploy by the State government to out rightly ban that means of transportation.
Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s morning programme, Sunrise, Mr Wamba said one of the state government requirements for any okada plying designated route is that the motorcycle engine capacity must not be below 200cc.
“If they use the word ‘ban’, it would sound very ugly to the hearing of the masses, the truth is that they have ban okada in Lagos” Mr Wamba said.
When corrected by a host of the programme that the state government only prohibited okada riders from plying 475 routes, the union leader requested permission to elaborate a salient point in the new traffic law.
He said: “there is another clause that says if your motorcycle is below 200cc, you are prohibited from the other routes in Lagos. So which other routes can okadas ply?”
Mr Wamba said all the engine capacity of all the motorcycles in Lagos is below 200cc.
The union leader said the government is taking the steps to ban commercial motorcycles in Lagos because “they hate okada riders”. The government however insisted that the new law is to bring sanity on the road.
The law prohibits okada riders from carrying pregnant women, school-children or women with children. It also prohibits the riders from carrying more than one passenger and from riding against traffic or riding on the kerb, median or road set- backs.
Furthermore the commercial motorcyclists are prohibited from plying major roads in Lagos including Herbert Macaulay Way, Nurudeen Olowopopo Road, Agidingbi Road, Adeola Odeku, Ajose Adeogun, Allen Avenue, Opebi, Isaac John, Mobolaji Johnson Way, Oduduwa Way, among others.
The Lagos State House of Assembly on Monday threatened to ban commercial motorcycle popularly known as Okada out rightly from the State.
The Speaker of the House, Adeyemi Ikuforiji made the threat following a report on the destruction of government properties by the protesting Okada riders along Ikorodu road.
The House frowned at the attitude of Okada riders in the metropolis, calling on the state government to further strengthen security agencies to protect lives and property.
Mr Ikuforiji, while reacting to the incident said the House would not hesitate to ban Okada out rightly if the riders continue to destroy government property and constitute nuisance in the State.
Some Okada riders went on the rampage in various parts of Lagos State on Monday to protest the ban on them from plying 475 roads in the metropolis.
At Onipanu, on Ikorodu Road, the protesters vandalised about 10 BRT buses during the violent protest against the Lagos State Government.
Armed with sticks, iron roads and other dangerous weapons, the Okada riders hauled stones at BRT buses on Ikorodu road at Onipanu and Palmgrove bus stops.
There was pandemonium in the area and a team of policemen from the Rapid Response Squad, RRS was deployed to the area to quell the protest. It was gathered that some arrests were made by the police but the number of arrests is yet to be confirmed.
Similarly, the riders also protested in Ikorodu and Ejigbo areas of the state this morning over the ban on them by government. In Ejigbo, the riders blocked the road, causing traffic jam in the area while they carried leaves and chanted anti-government songs. They rejected the ban placed on them from plying 475 roads in Lagos, saying it would cripple their businesses.
The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Ngozi Braide, confirmed the protest, saying the police moved in on time to quell the protest.
Total war on Okada
Meanwhile, the Lagos State Government has declared a total war on commercial motorcycle riders plying the 475 prohibited routes in the Lagos metropolis.
Speaking at a forum to enlighten military officials in Lagos, the State governor, Babatunde Fashola solicited the assistance of the army in the implementation of the new traffic law.
“The military gave us this democracy, so there must be a continuing partnership to keep it going,” Mr Fashola said.
The governor however insisted that such partnership would happen “only where the rule of law prevails.”
He said: “About the Okada, for me, I understand the economics of the okada. But it also has the social effects. Many fathers have lost their children; many husbands have lost their wives; many children have lost both parents.
“All we are saying is don’t go on the highways. First because we must even understand, Okadas and vehicles are automobiles; they are not toys; they are mechanical devices and therefore for you to even use them you must go and train. That’s why you go to driving school to go and learn; then they certify you.
“Somebody just pulls okada from any parts of the country he likes, gets onto a truck, he’s going to Lagos and then you entrust your life to that man? As if that was not bad enough, he drives against traffic?
Emerging from a meeting with Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, leaders of commercial motorcycle (Okada) operators in the State, on Tuesday, pledged to comply with and self-enforce the new Lagos Road Traffic Law among their members.
At the meeting which had in attendance the leaders of the various associations of okada riders who spoke one after the other at the Banquet Hall of the Lagos House, Alausa, the Chairman of the Motorcycle Operators Association of Lagos State, Ambassador Tijani Pekis, pledged that the associations’ leaders would go ahead to sensitize and sanitize their members for total compliance adding that the leaders would also help in the enforcement of the law.
Echoing the Governor’s statement that obedience to the law is better than the sacrifice of lives of the people Pekis declared, “The Governor has asked us to go and comply with the law. The issue of 2010 is beyond 2012. May be then some of us did not take it serious but now we are out to sensitize and sanitize our members for compliance”.
The Chairman, who described the Governor’s address at the meeting as touching and human, said the address had made them to understand that the present administration meant well for them and interested in their future, adding that personally, he had obtained a written document from the State Commissioner of Police through the Operations Officer to enable the various unions enforce the law among their members.
He told newsmen after the meeting, “The Governor has told us to obey before complaint and we are going out en masse to sensitize our members for total compliance. Every association, whether recognized or not will pick a date when they will go out to enforce the law. We will meet all the DPOs with the document from the Commissioner of Police to get enforcement backing”.
“One big statement that has been giving me problem since I sat here is, am I going to ask my child to come into this business? I think that question has personally knocked me out of the okada business”, the Chairman said.
Earlier, in his address, Governor Fashola , who took time to explain the objectives of the law as the safety, good health and improved quality of life for all, urged okada operators in the State to comply with the law first before complaining promising that his administration was ready to listen and make operational changes where there are genuine complaints.
“Obedience to this law is better than to sacrifice the lives of the people. Go and obey first; our doors are open and we will be ready to listen to you when there is genuine complaint”, the Governor said adding that compliance to the law was in the best interest of every citizen including the operators themselves.
Governor Fashola expressed dissatisfaction with the way the okada operators acted in total disregard of restrictions and rules of operation made by the Government in 2010 even after a meeting and agreement with their parent unions, the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and Road Transport Owners Association of Nigeria saying their activities became even worse after the meeting.
“You are operating in Lagos and you are attracted to Lagos because there are opportunities. Some people worked very hard and invested their lifetime to create those opportunities. I appealed to you about a year and a half ago to stay off certain routes, close at particular time. What I saw immediately after that meeting was even worse”, the Governor said.
Pointing out that he has received numerous letters of complaint from other citizens of the State against okada operators, Governor Fashola declared, “Now, I am the Governor for every citizen of this State. You want to do business, some people are complaining; they have the same right as you have. In the same way I will stand up for you if anybody does business at your expense, I will stand up for them if you do business at their expense”.
The Governor noted that many women and children have become widows and orphans while many have been made invalid for life as a result of the recklessness of okada riders adding, “You have a right to do business but that right is not absolute. It means you must respect other peoples’ rights so that they will respect your own”.a
Pointing out that he receives scores of letters and e-mails from the public complaining about the activities of okada operators in the State, the Governor said, “Now you think I am restricting you; some people want you banned”.
He advised the various associations of okada and tricycle operators to go and harmonize themselves into the ones recognized by Government pointing out that the Government recognizes only the NURTW, RETEAN, MOALS and NAKOWA. He declared, ”Yes you have a right and freedom of association but we have the right to choose who we want to do business with”.
Governor Fashola appealed to the association leaders to endeavour to educate their members on the need for compliance to the traffic law noting that the State Government is spending huge sums of money on free medical care for victims of okada and tricycle accidents. “Such taxpayers’ money can be judiciously utilized on other sectors which could be beneficial to everybody”, he said.
Debunking the idea to suspend the law for now, Governor Fashola pointed out. “The law is now in force. From the day I signed it, it became a law so the idea of suspending the law is not something I can do even if I wanted to. But what we have said consistently and I repeat is that our intention is not to arrest people; our intention is not to jail people. Our intention, and that is why we are having this meeting, is to explain to you why this law is in your interest and in the interest of other citizens so that you have a choice as an adult to say ‘I will comply with this law. It may require me to make some sacrifices but the gains that I see will be bigger’ and, therefore voluntary compliance is the real objective of this law”.
On the 475 roads restricted from okada operations, Governor Fashola, who pointed out that the law was made after painstaking consultation with the people, noted that the number was less than 10 percent of the 9, 100 roads in the State adding, “The State Government is not unmindful that change is difficult, as a responsive and responsible Government whose primary responsibility is to ensure the protection of lives and property of the citizenry, the motorcycle and tricycle operators in the State need to comply with the law”.
He promised that Government would continue to support law-abiding motorcycle associations and any of the members who could not continue with the business as a result of the law was free to register with the Skill Acquisition Centres across the State or take to farming as a profession.
Concerning the operation of the NURTW and RTEAN, Governor Fashola urged them to find a better way to collect dues instead of the present method which disturbs the peace of the people both at the various motor parks and the highways urging them to build a better image for themselves.
Also present at the meeting were the Deputy Governor, Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, Commissioner for Transportation, Kayode Opeifa and his Information and Strategy counterpart, Mr. Aderemi Ibirogba while motorcycle operators’ associations in attendance included MOALS, ANACOWA, ACOMORAN, Okada Welfare and while KORAN 3 Wheeler Unification of the NURTW and 3 Wheeler Association represented the Tricycle Associations.
Commercial motorcyclists, popularly known as Okada riders on Monday dragged the Lagos State Government to court over its new Road Traffic Law, part of which restricts their operations on major highways across the state. The okada riders under the aegis of All Nigerians Autobike Commercial Owners and Workers Association, is seeking an order of court restraining the state government from prohibiting them from operating on the major highways listed in Items 1-11 and other parts of Schedule II of the New Traffic Law.
In the suit No ID/713M/2012 filed through their lawyer, Bamidele Aturu, the claimant is also asking the court to restrain the Lagos state government from molesting, harassing, arresting, seizing their motorcycles or subjecting them to any treatment not suffered by any other road users.
Joined in the suit alongside the Lagos State Government are the state Attorney-General and Lagos State House of Assembly.
The claimants also asked the court to declare that the New Traffic Law constitutes an unjustifiable violation of the right to freedom of movement of the Claimants and their members guaranteed by section 41(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended.
They also asked the court to declare that the new Law constitutes a violation of the defendants’ means of livelihood as well as adequate opportunity to secure suitable employment for them as provided for in Section 17(3) (a) of the Constitution.
The okada riders asked the court to declare that the major highways listed in Items 1-11 and other parts of Schedule II of the New Traffic Law in which okada operations are restricted are Federal Trunk or Highway Roads within the meaning of the Federal Highways Act, cap F13, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
They also asked the court for a declaration that the defendants have no power whatsoever to make any law to regulate traffic on any of the Federal Trunk or Highway Roads listed in Schedule II to the Lagos State Road Traffic Law, No 4 of 2012 and in the Federal Highways Act, cap F13, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
In addition they sought a declaration that the provisions of that section 3(1) of the Lagos State Road Traffic Law, No 4 of 2012 to the extent that it prohibits the riding, driving or propelling of a cart, wheel barrow, motorcycle or tricycle on the Major Highways in Lagos listed in Items 1-11 and other parts of Schedule II is in fundamental conflict with section 4(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended and is therefore ultra vires, illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional, null, void, oppressive, inoperative and of no effect whatsoever.
The claimants further asked the court to order directing the defendants to immediately release all motorcycles belonging to them and their members seized by and in the custody of the Defendants and their agents and or officers.
A Public Affairs analyst; Paul Utho has commended the Lagos State Government for taking a step in the right direction on the recent Lagos traffic laws passed into law to guide motorists in Lagos but in his opinion some of the traffic laws look draconian and too stiff.
Mr. Paul said the issue at hand now is not making the laws but making the laws and not carrying the citizens along in a country with a democratic setting.