Chaos ensued on Thursday at the Alaba-Rago Market, Mile-Two Expressway, Lagos after commercial motorcycle riders, popularly referred to in Nigerian slang as ‘okadas’ stormed the streets of the city to protest the eviction letter served to them by the Lagos State Government. The letter which was to take effect immediately gave the motorcyclists a maximum of two weeks to vacate the premises and cease all operations along the road and its environs.
Some of the okada riders mistook this as an enforcement of the general ban placed on all motorcyclists in the commercial city by the Lagos State government on Tuesday and took to the street in protest, setting fire to the expressway and daring police operatives to enter the area. According to reports, the false news has spread like wildfire across the state with several okada riders spoiling for a fight with police and security officials.
But the reports have also stated that the eviction letter is not a new thing as the Lagos state government and representatives of the Alago-Rago Market had been in discussions for months prior over the modernization and evolution of the market. The letter was a result of several reports of criminal elements using the market as a den prompting the government to move up the agreed-upon deadline.
This was misunderstood by the motorcyclists who according to eyewitness reports, immediately blocked the expressway with their bikes when the letter was delivered and allegedly brandished weapons at the police. More operatives from the Area ‘E’ Command as well as divisions under it were dispatched at once to calm tensions in the area.
However, upon catching sight of the arriving policemen, the disgruntled okada riders picked up stones and other objects in preparation to make a stand against the policemen. The police and task force teams successfully overpowered the rioters, upon which many fled, abandoning their bikes to avoid a possible arrest.