Over 10,000 Okada riders fled from Niger after ban –SSG

The ban on the operation and sale of motorcycles in Niger State has allegedly forced over 10,000 commercial Okada operators to flee the state, the Secretary to the State Government, SSG, Ahmed Ibrahim Matane has confirmed.

Matane who stated this in Minna said with the ban placed on the operations of Okada riders earlier and recently on the sale of motorcycles, the state has started witnessing some relative peace.

He explained that the ban on the sale of commercial motorcycles was taken to control the activities of bandits who mostly use the motorcycles for their operations.

“When we imposed the ban, the bandits were almost closing in on Minna, the state. And, we got an intelligence report that over 300 motorcycles were sold in two days and that’s a very rare sale. When we asked, we were told buyers were coming from other states to buy motorcycles in Minna. That was why we had to place a ban on the sales of motorcycles. With the ban, over 10,000 Okada operators left Niger State and that was when we started noticing some peace around the state. This is because 99% of the activities of bandits are carried out on motorcycles and these same motorcycles are used as ramsons or Jerry cans of fuel among others,” the state govt image-maker disclosed.

He said those still defying the ban on the movement of motorcycles are Okada riders that came from other states such as Kebbi, Kaduna because they feel it has been strongly enforced in Niger State.

He also revealed that apart from the killing and kidnapping of people, bandits in some communities in the state are also taxing farmers on their farm produce before they could harvest them and refusal will lead to setting farms on fire.

“We have always thought that the National Government should have a coordinated response that is sustainable with all the level severity, but we have some other challenges in doing that”

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” You see Nigeria today, every state is on its own. You pursue your own agenda for you to survive. If support comes fine, if it doesn’t you are on your own. The citizens will deal with you directly, they dont care whether there is a federal government or not. The citizens know their governor, they know the apparatus of the state and they take their issues there to be addressed”

Matane further explained that before the ban, the state government met with Motorcycles dealers in the state, where it was agreed that they should register any customer that purchases more than one motorcycle.

The dealers, according to him, were also supposed to liaise with the state Ministry for Transport and Board of Internal Revenue to ensure that the motorcycles are coded.

The SSG decried the failure of the dealers to honour the decision reached between them that resulted in the sales of over 300 motorcycles without notifying the relevant authority.

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However, Matane expressed optimism that the ban would go a long way to assist in curtailing the operations of bandits in the state, adding,” it’s our prayer that in one or two years time, this whole problem would go away, that’s my prayer every day”.

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Doris Israel Ijeoma

Doris Israel Ijeoma is a graduate of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism.

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