Lagos get tougher on okada as terrorists target Nigeria’s biggest city


 

The major motive for the extension of the ban on motorcycles (okada) in Lagos is the determination to prevent a terrorist attack.

The government first stopped passenger operations on June 1 in six local government areas (LGAs) – Apapa, Eti Osa, Ikeja, Lagos Island, Surulere and Lagos Mainland.

On Thursday, the ban was stretched to nine additional local council development areas (LCDAs) and would take effect, September 1.

They are Kosofe, Oshodi-Isolo, Shomolu, Mushin; Ikosi-Isherri, Agboyi-Ketu, Isolo, Bariga, and Odi-Olowo.

The Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration is acting on intelligence indicating insurgents are trying to settle in to form bases/establish a network.

The state remains a major target of terror cells trying to outdo each other in an attempt to wreak havoc in Nigeria’s biggest city.

Though Lagos has never been hit, Ansaru, Boko Haram and Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP), an ISIS affiliate, have all made separate ostensible threats.

An attack on the state would be considered a huge success for the jihadists and their sponsors behind the recurring attacks in Nigeria’s North.

A citizen close to the military hierarchy said the latest okada ban was part of the strategy to discourage the influx of intruders.

Noting that Lagos has not been so infiltrated as speculated, the source said the authorities considered it wise to stay ahead of extremists.

“The ban on okada is preemptive, basically to foil attacks. Intelligence services already discovered that terror groups want to strike.

“This necessitated an adjustment in security architecture. The fact that terrorists have their eyes on the state is why movements are being scrutinized.

“The recent interception in Southwest states was the result of vigilance; the Lagos government action against okada will discourage many from coming.

“Since it’s hard to identify who is who, the best thing is to curtail those suspected may be used as tools to perpetrate evil”; he said.

Barely a fortnight ago, more than 160 suspected invaders were intercepted at Itaogbolu-Iju by the Ondo State Security Network Agency (Amotekun).

They were hiding in two trucks conveying cows and motorcycles. The arrest occurred four days after the corps intercepted over 150 suspected invaders near Sango along Akure/Ado road.

In late July 24, the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) warned of the plan by terrorists to strike Lagos and others.

A memo by Deputy Commandant General (Operations) DD Mungadi said Boko Haram and ISWAP have mobilized fighters and Rocket-propelled Grenade (RPG) launchers, Anti-Aircraft (AA) guns and General Purpose Machine Guns (GPMGS).

“Two separate bandits groups are plotting coordinated attacks on North-West, North Central and South West (Katsina, Zamfara, Kaduna, Kogi, FCT and Lagos) respectively”, it alerted.

The NSCDC directed its personnel to increase surveillance at schools, worship centres and critical national assets in their respective domains.

This week, the police in Lagos confirmed the state was under a partial lockdown by security agencies due to the threat of attacks.

Commissioner of Police Abiodun Alabi explained that the stop-and-search noticeable at different locations was part of efforts to safeguard the metropolis.

It was gathered that another reason for the okada ban is the rate of deaths and violence caused by the operators.

In September 2021, riders lynched in Ajao Estate lynched Chief Superintendent Kazeem Abonde after the late office led a police team on enforcement.

Earlier, security was breached at the Lagos State University (LASU) in Ojo as riders hurled stones through the main gate and later chased students, causing injuries.

In May, an okada rider in Lekki, identified as Dahiru, had a disagreement with his passengers, Frank Olatunji and Philip Balogun, over the fare.

In the heat of the argument, David Imoh, a sound engineer who tried to mediate was attacked, killed and set ablaze allegedly by Dahiru and colleagues. Suspects have been arrested.

In recent years, motorcycles owners periodically clash with residents and the police in several areas mostly in Lagos mainland.

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