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IN MARYLAND: Task Force officials fire gunshots, seize motorcycles from riders

Motorcyclists operating in Mende, Maryland axis of Lagos Mainland have, for the first time, had a bitter taste of the high-handedness of men of the Lagos State Task Force following a raid by the officers today, May 22, 2019.

According to witnessed, the heavily armed officers came in a fleet of vehicles and large trucks with which they took away over 40 motorcycles.

InsideMainland gathered that officers who arrived combat-ready blocked the major roads in the vicinity, trapping the motorcyclists and started shooting sporadically into the air, an act that caused panic among residents, passers-by and traders.

Okada riders discussing their fate after the raid

Eyewitness account reports that motorcyclists who resisted the officers were brutalised and some of them arrested. The rash display of force prompted Okada riders to abandon their motorcycles and flee for fear of being assaulted.

It was also learnt that it was the first time the Task Force officers would be raiding motorcyclists in the area.

The Chairman of the Motorcycle Operators’ Association of Lagos State (MOALS), Maryland Unit, who spoke to InsideMainland said that were their members were operating was not a restricted area and they had not been given any prior warning before the raid.

MOALS Chairman, Ballo, collecting the particulars of the operators in an attempt to retrieve the confiscated motorcyclists.

“We know that we are restricted from plying the expressway and our member don’t go there. When we were initially moved out the tarmac and came to Mende, we were told to stay 50 yards away from the express. We gave more than 100 yards space. So this raid is unwarranted,” the chairman who identified himself simply as Ballo, said.

When InsideMainland visited the scene of the incident, the uncertainty about the possibility of the Okada riders retrieving their motorcycles rented the air. The anxiety was palpable and transport services by motorcycle was comatose at the ever-busy road.

The deserted Mende road after the raid.

One of the unlucky riders whose Motorcycle was seized lamented: “They didn’t tell us where or when to come for our motorcycles. This is my only source of livelihood that has been snatched from me.”

The surprise attack by the Task Force on Okada rider has drawn criticism from residents and traders in the community.   

A trader who spoke to InsideMainland on the condition of anonymity said: “It’s not good when it is time for elections, it is these people that will still vote them. See how they are treating them like criminals.”

They regretted that the activities of the Task Force escalated after the elections.