Wednesday, 1 September 2010

News Release: Lagos State DPA Indicts Police, LASTMA Over Illegally Confiscated “Okadas”

                               [Governor Fashiola of Lagos State]

Democratic Peoples’ Alliance (DPA) have asked the Lagos State Government and the Police Commissioner, Mr. Marvel Akpoyibo, to return hundreds of commercial motorcycles impounded before the September 1 date fixed for the commencement of new rules for Okada riders in the state.

The party accused zealous police officers and Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) men of violating the law by way-laying cyclists on Lagos highways and dispossessing them of their machines, well ahead of the official August 31 deadline.

“Policemen and agents of the government clearly compromised their own rules by preemptively seizing motorcycles plying the highways last month. This is an illegality. Operating a law before its announced commencement amounts to ambushing and it has no place in law. Police and LASTMA have simply indulged in executive lawlessness and must be made to return such impounded motorcycles free of charge,” Lagos DPA said in a statement by its Director of Publicity, Felix Oboagwina.

The party warned the Lagos Commissioner of Police, Mr. Marvel Akpoyibo, against condoning the illegalities perpetrated by his men, saying it was annoying that he even defended their illegalities. The party cited Akpoyibo’s “indefensible, insensitive and reckless” position on the over 48 people killed at a police roadblock on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway earlier in August.

The party reported witnessing the impounding of Okadas in Oshodi last week by unscrupulous officers operating in vehicles marked OPMESA, RRS and LASTMA. They also seized motorcycles in Alimosho, Ikeja and other areas in the last fortnight.

“Lagosians will also like to know if the State House of Assembly has changed its mind and has now enacted an enabling law for the new Okada rules,” the party said. “Last time, the House of Assembly asked the government to stay action on the new regulations.”

The party asked the Police Commissioner and the LASTMA authorities to carry out investigations and ensure they brought to book any of their men found to have levied between N10,000 and N20,000 usually extorted from desperate Okada owners.

DPA also wanted the government to educate its men against infringing the highway movement of dispatch riders and those using cycles for purely personal and official purposes, once they complied with the relevant laws.

In view of the new rules banning Okada from conveying pregnant women and school children, the party asked the government to immediately commence a quick response ambulance service for pregnant women in labour and a comprehensive transport scheme that would cater for school children, especially in suburban and rural areas.

Those involved in the illegal arrests included LASTMA, police and Rapid Response Squad personnel, that carted away such seized motorcycles to unknown places in lorries, vans and commercial buses.

While commending the government for excluding the outright banning of Okada in Lagos State, DPA however urged the government to create an enabling environment for the operators.

“Whether we like it or not, Okada has become a veritable industry in Nigeria. It is fulfilling a very significant need in the black hole of transportation and employment inadequacies bedeviling Lagos. Moreover, motorcycles provide employment for unskilled labour and graduates alike, so it is not an industry to be discarded or treated with disdain,” the party said. “Many operators find the job adequate to meet their daily needs and for maintaining an acceptable standard of living.”

In addition to making helmets compulsory for passenger and riders, the state government had directed that riders must not convey pregnant women, children and more than one passenger per trip, apart from obtaining the state-approved card.

On the new rules, the party warned that indiscriminate arrest of Okada operators would create unnecessary tension, heighten unemployment and increase crime wave, ultimately.

Felix Oboagwina
Director of Publicity,
Lagos state DPA

News Report: Nigeria's Former Spymaster To Declare Presidential Intention

                              [Aliyu Gusau]

The Nigerian political scene would witness increased activity soon when the Internationally acclaimed former spymaster, rtd. Lt. General Muhammadu Aliyu Gusau would delare his intention to seek the nomination of his party, the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) as its candidate for the 2011 presidential election.. Gusau is one of the three presidential aspirants cleared by party elders from northern Nigeria to contest the party's presidential primary election.

The retired military intelligence  officer, who holds the record of longest serving National Security Adviser(NSA) have been having consultations with political leaders across the six geo-political zones for some time now, chidi opara reports learnt from a reliable contact inside the former spymaster's campaign organization.

The Zamfara state born master strategist contested his party's presidential primary election in December 2006 but was defeated by late Umaru Yar'Adua. He subsequently retreated into private life. This retreat was terminated by an invitation from President Goodluck Jonathan, then acting President, to serve again as NSA. Contacts close to Gusau informed chidi opara reports that he accepted the appointment on condition that he would be allowed to resign and contest the 2011 presidential election.

This longest serving NSA is credited with having very influential friends both inside and outside Nigeria. These friends are Gusau's major political asset.

Independent investigation by chidi opara reports however revealed that Aliyu Gusau's Intelligence background would work for and against him at the same time. While one group of analysts posit that the former spymaster would be supported because of "what he knows", others opined that he would be denied support for same reason.

A third group of analysts are of the opinion that the former NSA is only positioning himself for negotiations with any interested party.