By Christopher Oji and Dickson Okafor
Hell was let loose, yesterday, at Iyana Iba/Alaba Rago and Ojo areas of Lagos state when commercial motorcycle riders and members of National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) (Okada) clashed.
The fight was said to have followed an alleged 100 per cent increase in the daily toll charged motorcycle operators by the NURTW in the area, as the okada riders were said to have rejected the increase in the tariff. The motorbike operators claimed that they were being exploited by the union.
Another version of the story claimed that the fight was between another ethnic group that wanted to take over the control of the area from the group of Yoruba extraction who claimed they own the land.
An eyewitness, Mukaila, told Daily Sun that dangerous weapons such as daggers, cutlasses, broken bottles and charms were freely used during the fracas.
Mukaila, a commercial bus driver, said: “I was coming from Ajamgbadi to Mile 2 when I ran into the crisis. Over 200 Okada riders were involved in the fight. I had to abandon my vehicle and took to my heels.”
As at press time, the police had taken over the scene, while normalcy was being restored.
The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), CSP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, in a statement, explained that normalcy had returned. He dismissed claims that the fight had ethnic coloration and said it was purely a fight between Okada riders and their union.
He 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, 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.”