Edo State Government yesterday banned the use of commercial motorcycles, popularly called Okada in three Local Government Areas of the state with effect from next Monday.
Also, the Government has identified some houses used by kidnappers as hideout and vowed to demolish the houses in the next few days.
The State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole who disclosed this yesterday shortly after the state Security Council meeting in Benin City, said the affected local Government Areas are Ikpoba Okha, Oredo and Egor which constitute the Benin Metropolis.
He said it was now increasingly evident that Edo state is gradually becoming a safe haven for all manner of bike riders.
Oshiomhole said, “In fact there are confirmed Okada riders who have been involved in kidnapping and other forms of violent crimes including robbery. We have tried as a government over the years to take steps to counsel Okada riders to observe certain codes, to watch out and ensure that criminals do not infiltrate their ranks and hide under commercial vehicles to perpetrate crime. It is clear to me now that we have not been particularly successful. More and more Okada riders have been found to be involved in various acts of violent crimes.
“Also, because of the influx of bike riders, arising from the decision of some of our neighbouring states where bike riders have been prohibited, Edo State has become a safe haven for all manners of bike riders and because they do not get enough commercial patronage, some bike riders have to resort to crime in other to sustain a living while posing to be bike riders,” he noted.
Oshiomhole declared, “I am convinced that we cannot continue to allow this situation to continue. While I am very concerned about the fact of the level of unemployment in the country, and in Edo state we have our own fair share of unemployment, I am convinced that the long term interest of job creation requires that you attract investors and investment to the state. It is a settled issue that investors will not be in a hurry to go to any state that the level of crime has risen beyond acceptable level.
“Therefore, everything considered, we have resolved as a government, effective from Monday next week, bike riders will not be allowed to operate in any part of Oredo, Ikpoba Okha and Egor Local Government Areas. These three local governments constitute the heart of Benin City. The law enforcement agencies have been informed accordingly and directed to strictly enforce this law,” he noted.
The governor stated that for now the other fifteen local government areas in the state will not be affected by this law, adding that “should situation deteriorate in those areas, we will meet as a government and review the situation and take the necessary next step.
Comrade Oshiomhole said that more than eighty percent of accident victims in the hospital are bike riders, noting that “we cannot continue like this. I therefore reached the painful conclusion that it is time to do something and we cannot postpone it further.”
“I am not in doubt that there are many Okada riders who are not criminals and they have no criminal intentions. I am also convinced that there are many Okada riders who are into legitimate business, unfortunately there isn’t any mechanism for us to distinguish criminals who are also bike operators and decent citizens who are doing their very best to cope with the rigours of life, this is just one sacrifice we all have to make to make our state safer,” he added.
The Governor therefore appealed to the Okada riders to appreciate the government’s efforts and advised them to abide by the law strictly because a violation will be severely dealt with.
The Governor disclosed that the security meeting also resolved that all residents in the state, whether they are landlords or tenants should ensure that those they employ as private security guards or maids in their homes have been properly scrutinized and certified that they have the right to reside in Nigeria.
“That is to say that it is the responsibility of every landlord or tenants to ensure that those they employ or hire as gatemen or security have got proper security scrutiny. The security chiefs have been directed to conduct random checks on security guards in various areas to establish their legal status whether they are Nigerians and if they are not Nigerians whether they have the right to reside in the state, and or have the right to engage in employment,” the governor added.
While reiterating government’s resolve to demolish buildings used by kidnappers, Comrade Oshiomhole said some of such buildings have been identified and action will be taken on then in soon. He however announced that government will appropriately reward anybody who is able to provide useful information to any arm of the security agencies on criminal elements in the society.