By; U.K. Umar.
It is a known fact that most commercial motorcycle riders (Okada, Achaba, Going, Kabu Kabu, etc) in any Nigerian town or city are unruly, lousy and reckless. Added to these negative tags is their penchant for fighting, petty crimes – snatch and run, hit and run, and a more recent dangerous dimension is the use of motorcycles to carry out murders or throw bombs and run.
For above and other reasons, state governments have been emulating Mallam Nasir El-Rufa’i who as then F.C.T Minister, banned their operations in central parts of Abuja.
In Niger State, although their ban was initiated by the former administration of Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, the present Administration relaxed the ban when it came on board but had to of recent, resuscitate it.
In Minna, the State Capital of Niger State, motorcycles are not allowed to operate after 6:00pm while Tricycles have up till 11:00pm to close shop. This is an executive order by the governor meant to reduce the menace these riders cause on our pot-hole riddled roads. A very commendable step but there is something essentially wrong with its execution.
Men of Nigeria Police Force are known for doing most right things wrongly – from wearing their uniforms to carrying out orders. Give a simple order for execution and they would surely over do especially if it has to do with the poor masses. I could give many examples of how the Police in Nigeria have caused needless crisis by their sheer lack of tact but two instances will do.
In 2005 in Bida town, for refusing to give N20 (Twenty Naira) as demanded, a traffic police officer shot dead a Kabu Kabu rider (Commercial Motorcyclist). That incident led to a serious crisis that resulted in injuries to many innocent police men. The B-Division Police Station near the Post Office was raised to the ground by the angry Okada men.
We also recall that the present Boko Haram crisis that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and still counting was largely caused by the carelessness of officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force who killed Muhammad Yusuf (leader of the sect) while he was in handcuffs in their custody in Maiduguri. After the crisis that ensued, we were also witnesses to how the Police engaged in public execution of suspects to the consternation of onlookers. In a video clip by Aljazeera, police men could be seen searching houses; they fished out suspects, lined them face down on the street and shot at them at close range. A senior officer in the clip could be heard saying “shoot them in the head”!
Now, in their usual overzealousness, police men in Minna are doing something that if not checked, would soon cause the death of a recalcitrant motorcycle rider in Minna. The aftermath of such incidents are better imagined.
In a bid to execute the governor’s order on Okada ban, once it’s dark, patrol teams of police men would position themselves at various locations they know they would see the lawbreakers. There are two known methods they are using to ‘catch’ the law-breaking Okada riders. In the first method, they use long, big sticks and blinding bright touch lights. They would hide themselves and their vehicle from the sight of an oncoming unsuspecting Okada rider who has exceeded the curfew time (for whatever reason at all). Once he’s near, two or three of the men would jump to the middle of the road flashing their blinding lights at his face. In that brief moment of confusion, the ones holding the sticks would heat their victim with the sticks. This sends him and his motorcycle sprawling on the tarred road. If you think this is bad, wait for the second method.
The requirements for this second method are a long, tiny but strong rope that can cross a wide road, a dark spot and two strong brutes in Police uniforms. They would set the rope across the road; at each end is a brute that is ready to pull on command. It’s a sort of trap. They lay hidden in wait for an oncoming, ever-speeding, law-breaking Okada rider. Once he’s in sight and near, a whistle is blown and the two brutes would raise the rope to neck-level of the Okada rider. Upon contact with the rope, the victim gets whisked off the bike violently to the ground.
A tricycle rider who narrated his ordeal to me said they caught him with this second method once when he was still riding Okada. According to him, he hit the tarred road so hard that he fainted. He showed me a fresh wound still healing on his elbow. The police men thought he was dead and left him there. It was when he eventually ‘resurrected’ that he was told by his colleagues that his motorcycle was taken by the police to Dutsen Kura Police Station, Minna.
There will always be laws and there will always be lawbreakers. I am very sure that no law would permit any of the above methods as means of apprehending lawbreakers. Anyone with any means of reaching the higher Police authorities in Minna should quickly inform them of what “the boys” are doing. It is barbaric and unacceptable.