There was confusion on Tuesday morning in the Ikorodu Market along Munirat Aleje Street, Lagos State, after a policeman hit a commercial motorcyclist in the head with the butt of his gun. The okada rider, Ibrahim Idris, slumped from his bike immediately the policeman smashed his head. Idris was said to have been rushed to a hospital in the area.
Our correspondent gathered that the policeman, whose name could not be ascertained, was part of a squad from Sagamu Road Police Station, which was patrolling the street around 10am. It was learnt further that the police had been arresting the riders for plying the road they described as an expressway. The riders had mobilised to protest the attack on their member at the police station. They were, however, prevented from taking the action by their chairman.
One of the riders, who identified himself simply as John, told our correspondent that it had become the habit of the policemen to extort okada riders in the area on daily basis.
He said, “The Police have turned us to their Automated Teller Machine. They come here to collect money from us. But today, one of them stopped Idris on the account of plying an expressway. He refused to stop then the policeman pursued him. On catching up with him, the policeman hit Idris with the butt of his gun. He slumped immediately.”
The Chairman of the okada riders in the area, Mr. Akeem Olowu, described the incident as an infringement on their rights. He urged the police to exercise caution in relating with okada riders and the residents.
“This is how they have been harassing us. They arrest my members and whenever they seize our motorcycles, especially new ones, we pay not less than N10,000 to retrieve them. They really need to change the way they treat us and people in general.”
Olowu, however, said the Divisional Police Officer led the team that took the victim to the hospital. The Lagos State police deputy spokesperson, Lelma Kolle, said, “In respect of the Lagos State Road Traffic Law which restricts okada riders from plying expressways, the police tried to stop the victim for violating the rule, but he did not stop.
“When he was eventually held, he tried to evade arrest. He fell from the bike in the process and he was rushed to a hospital. “He has been discharged since yesterday (Tuesday) and he has reported at the station. Meanwhile, the DPO has pleaded with the okada riders in the area. He has also detained the policeman that engaged the rider.”