By Christopher Oji, Lagos
Hell broke loose Monday at Iyana Iba/Alaba Rago and Ojo areas of Lagos State when public transport motorcyclists (‘Okada’ riders) clashed.
The Okada riders were said to be fighting with their union over an increase in the tarrif being charged by the union.
The Okada riders claimed that they were being exploited by the union.
Another report alleged that the clash was an inter-ethnic conflict between Yoruba riders and riders of a rival ethnicity over control of the routes.
The conflict resulted in pandemonium, leaving many people injured, vehicles destroyed and passersby running for cover.
A witness, Mukaila, told Daily Sun that dangerous weapons, including daggers, cutlasses, broken bottles and charms were freely used during the fracas.
Mukaila, a bus driver, said: ‘I loaded from Ajamgbadi to Mile 2, but I ran into the crisis. Over 200 Okada [riders] were fighting themselves. I abandoned my vehicle and took to my heels. All the passengers, except a woman who has an injured leg, also fled. It was when the police finally came and chased them away that I went to pick my bus and I was surprised to see a woman still in the bus. She told me that many people were injured. She told me that she would have fled from the bus but she couldn’t because of her injured leg. She also told me how passersby were being robbed by hoodlums who hijacked the fight.’
As at press time, the police have taken over the scene.
The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), CSP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, explained in a statement that normalcy has been restored and denied that the fight had was ethnically motivated, but purely a fight between Okada riders and their union.
‘The Lagos State Police Command has restored normalcy to the Iyana Iba/Alaba Rago and Ojo areas of the state where there was a disagreement between the members of the transport unions, okada units precisely, on the increment in tariff today, Monday 26th April,’ the police spokesman said.
‘The Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, CP Hakeem Odumosu, has ordered for immediate deployment of additional police personnel to the area to maintain law and order as he also directed the Area Commander, Area E Festac, to personally be on ground to monitor the situation and invite the leaders of the affected Okada riders unit for an urgent meeting.
‘The Command wishes to debunk the rumor that the disgreement, not violence as being peddled in the social media, was between some ethnic groups. Without mincing words, the incident has no ethic colouration whatsoever but a mere conflict between transport unions and their okada units on ticketing and increment in tariff.
‘The Command, therefore, enjoins members of the public, especially those around the areas, including the students of the Lagos State University (LASU) Ojo, to go about their lawful businesses and studies respectively, as adequate deployment has been done to fortify security in the axis and by extension, in Lagos State in general.’