AT LEAST 20 motorcycle taxi operators, known as okada riders, have been killed in Ondo State in the last three weeks while being robbed of their vehicles, the state’s security agency, Amotekun Corps, has said.
The commandant of the corps, Adetunji Adeleye, stated this on Wednesday in Akure while parading 11 persons suspected of crimes including unlawful possession of firearms, robbery and theft.
“In the last three weeks, we recorded cases of no fewer than 20 okada riders that have been killed and their motorcycles taken away,” he said.
Mr Adeleye said the parade of the suspects was to mark the flag off of the agency’s ember months crime-fighting campaign.
Mr Adeleye, who is also the special adviser to Governor Rotimi Akeredolu on security matters, said a dusk-to-dawn ban on okada in the state remained in force.
“It is even risky for them to be riding at night. We want to appeal to them to go and rest after working for 12 hours so that we recognise criminals.
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“Again, it is no more permitted to ply the roads without a registration number and all vehicles with tinted glass should get police permit. Motor dealers are to get dealer numbers, not stickers. Any erring vehicle will be impounded.
“These are measures we are putting in place to guarantee the safety of lives and property in the state. We want investors to come and do their work and we want farmers not to be molested on their farmlands.
“Herders/farmers issue has been resolved substantially and we don’t want it to resurface. We are saying that herders have the right to their business within the ambit of the law, without infringing on the right of the farmers and farmers too should not take laws into their hands, but report if your crops are destroyed.”
He said Amotekun was collaborating with the army, police, NSCDC and vigilantes in maintaining security in the state.
On the suspects paraded, he said six of them were caught with firearms.
“We are sending this warning to them and to anybody that is planning to foment trouble during this Yuletide season that it is not business as usual again,” he said.
“Our men will be deployed in all black spots across the 18 local government areas of the state.
“Our men will be stationed at all access points to the state; all access points to each local government area, all major areas that people concentrate.
“This is just to ensure and guarantee the safety of lives and property. So, residents should not have a change of heart when they see them. They are working for them.”
Mr Adeleye said the corps rescued over 100 victims of kidnapping in 2022 and recovered many valuable items.
He thanked members of the public for supporting the agency and urged them to continue to pass vital information to the officials.
In August last year, Amotekun arrested two men for allegedly murdering okada riders and stealing their motorcycles.
The suspects, Temitope Akinwale, 22, and Habeeb Jimoh, 21, were arrested in the Oba-Akoko axis of the Akoko Southwest Local Government Area of the state after weeks of tracking.
The hike in petrol price due to subsidy removal has boosted patronage of okada as a mode of transport in the state. With the increase in demand, the prices of motorcycles have also gone up substantially, making them more attractive to robbers.