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Say It Ain't So, Babatunde, Nigerian Government Rounds Up Commercial Motorcyclists

As many as 1,000 commercial motorcycle operators were arrested in Lagos yesterday as the state government followed through on its threat to put the hammer down on the riders.

The clampdown led commercial motorcyclists to protest the arrests and accuse the government of failing to pay attention to the need of the common man. The riders built a bonfire on the road where they say they make the majority of their income because of  regular traffic jams.

The authorities began their sweep at  7 am during the morning rush hour, and the commercial motorcycles operators were banded together and resisted the arrests. The riders alleged the operation was fraught with fraud and that some commercial motorcycle operators bought their way out of jail.

“Depending on your ability to negotiate,” said Thomas Onyekwere, a commercial bike owner.

The Nigerian state chairman of Motorcycle Operators Association, Tijani Pekis,  told reporters that the protesters who fought the arrests were not members of his group.

“I have alerted the commissioner for transportation who promised to inform the Police; let me add that those people are expressway commercial motorcycles riders, they are not my members; my members would not riot for any reason at all,” Pekis said.

Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, stated his intention to crack down on the bikers.

Fashola said the use of commercial motorcycles by some operators for organized criminal activity led to the crackdown.

“It is threatening legal and lawful business,” Fashola said.”We have to reduce crime to the barest minimum.”

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