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Reps Approve June 12 As New Democracy Day

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House of Representatives on Thursday considered and passed a bill seeking to confer legal status on June 12 as Nigeria’s new Democracy from the known May 29.

It will be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had in May this year conferred a posthumous award on Alhaji MKO Abiola, the acclaimed winner of June 12, 1993 presidential election upon which the new Democracy Day and also proposed the day as such.

Titled “A Bill for an Act to Amend the Public the Public Holidays Act, Cap. P40 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 to bring the Act in tandem with the current realities and exigencies of the modern times and to declare June 12 as Democracy Day in Nigeria and for Related Matters (HBs.918 and 1529)”, the bill was sponsored by Hon. Edward Gyang Pwajok and Hon. Kayode Oladele.

BIG STORY

BREAKING: Lagos Govt. Extends Okada Ban To Mushin, Oshodi, 7 Other LGAs

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The Lagos State Government has extended the ban on commercial motorcycles popularly called Okada to four more Local Govt Areas and five Local Council Development Areas.

As gathered, the state Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has directed full enforcement from September 1, 2022.

The additional councils where the total Okada ban is pronounced include Kosofe Local Government, Oshodi-Isolo Local Government, Shomolu Local Government, and Mushin Local Government.

Others are Ikosi-Isherri LCDA, Agboyi-Ketu LCDA, Isolo LCDA, Bariga LCDA, and Odi-Olowo LCDA.

Sanwo-Olu had in May banned the operation of commercial motorcycles on highways and six local governments and nine LCDAs. The governor announced that the ban is “indefinite and total”.

The six local governments listed by the governor are Ikeja, Surulere, Eti-Osa, Lagos Mainland, Lagos Island, and Apapa. The ban followed the February 2020 restriction placed on the activities of commercial motorcycles.

Sanwo-Olu said the Government decided in line with the State’s Transport Sector Reform Law of 2018 to immediately address the chaos and menace created by the operations of Okada in the listed areas. He told the police to enforce the order without compromise.

He said, “After a critical review of our restriction on Okada activities in the first six Local Government Areas where we restricted them on February 1, 2020, we have seen that the menace has not abated. We are now directing a total ban on Okada activities across the highways and bridges within these six Local Government and their Local Council Development Areas, effective from June 1, 2022.

“This is a phased ban we are embarking on this period, and we expect that within the short while when this ban will be enforced, Okada riders in other places where their activities are yet to be banned can find something else to do. We have given the notice now and we expect all commercial motorcycles plying the routes in the listed councils and areas to vacate the highways before enforcement begins. The enforcement will be total.”

Following reactions that greeted the ban’s announcement, the governor on May 24 insisted that the state government would go ahead with its proposed ban on motorcycles, adding that security services and government are on the same page with respect to the banning of motorcycles in the selected areas of the state.

He also assured that the security architecture of the state would not be compromised in any way so that Lagos residents will continue to live their lives and do their business without any fear or favour.

He said, “The security meeting gives us an opportunity for us to review the recent pronouncement on the future banning of Okada (motorcycles) in some selected local governments and LCDAs.

“We are able to put strategies in place. All of us were able to identify a lot of other things we need to do to embark on advocacy and ensure that we communicate effectively and efficiently to citizens. And that is why you see us giving out handbills in all of the major languages that we have in the country.

“There is a radio jingle being sent out to also communicate to people. I am also aware that there is a plan for advocacy on television stations as well.

“It is a people-driven initiative that we all agreed to live and to comport ourselves in a similar manner. And we know what has been the effect of this. So, I am happy that all of us, the security operatives and government are on the same page with this and we will also be going ahead with our plans.”

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BIG STORY

NDLEA Nabs Abuja Businessman For Selling Illicit Drugs Online

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Operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, have arrested the MD/CEO of Marvelrock Pharmaceuticals and Stores Limited, Mr. Orakwe Chibuike Celestine, for allegedly engaging in sales of illicit and controlled drugs on the popular e-commerce platform, Jiji.ng.

A graduate of Business Administration from the University of Abuja, Orakwe, it was alleged, registered the pharmaceutical company on 16th December 2014 with the certificate and support of a licensed pharmacist, who opted out of the deal in 2017. The suspect continued running the business and enrolled it on Jiji.ng platform in 2019. He however came under NDLEAs radar in October 2021 when he advertised many pharmaceutical products such as Tramadol, Ketamine Hydrochloride injection, and Hypnox flunitrazepam tablets among others on the Jiji.ng online marketplace.

NDLEA said between 26th October 2021 and 8th August 2022, its team of anti-narcotic officers assigned to investigate Orakwes drug business activities was able to establish the suspect was selling Tramadol 225mg and other illicit/controlled drugs through the e-commerce platform. It said, as a result, the suspect was arrested with some quantities of Tramadol and Swiphnol brand of Rohypnol on Monday 8th August at a drink joint in the Jabi area of Abuja where he had gone to make some supplies of orders made through his online channel on Jiji.ng.

In his reaction to Orakwes arrest, Chairman/Chief Executive of NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd) said the painstaking investigation and process of arresting the businessman should send a strong message to those hiding behind the internet to engage in marketing and selling illicit/controlled drugs that the Agency will definitely get them to face the consequences of their action.

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BIG STORY

Lagosians Call For Total Ban Of Commercial Motorcycles

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. . . As Government Announces 86% Reduction in Crime Rate, 63.7% Decline in Okada-Related Accidents

Lagosians are calling on the State government to place a total ban on commercial motorcycles.

At a stakeholders’ forum convened to review the ban on commercial motorcycles, popularly called ‘okada’, in six local government areas, participants unanimously called for a total ban on the mode of transportation.

Commissioner for Information and Strategy Mr. Gbenga Omotoso explained that Governor Sanwo-Olu mandated a committee to engage stakeholders and review the ban, which took effect on June 1, 2022.

The Commissioner said, “After seeing the results of the ban in the six local government areas, many Lagosians have been calling on the government to expand the ban. Some say it should be statewide, considering the present anxiety over security. Mr. Governor has mandated us to have this meeting to discuss what next”.

Calling on stakeholders to present sincere opinions and recommendations that would aid the government’s decision, Omotoso noted that data available after the ban indicated a security improvement, a reduction in motorcycle accidents, and lower admission of ‘ókada’ victims in hospitals.

Commissioner for Transportation Dr. Frederic Oladeinde said an anti-okada squad was inaugurated to aid the police and task force in enforcing the ban.

The Commissioner said: “In the affected areas within the period under review, available records show that crime and accident rates reduced by 86% and 63.7% while 7,500 motorcycles were impounded and crushed”.

He said the forum was convened “to reignite the State’s commitment to tackling insecurity, crime, non-compliance to safety rules and traffic regulations as well as underground activities perpetuated by non-State actors with the use of Okada”.

Oladeinde gave an assurance that the State Government would consider the views at the forum in taking further decisions on the okada menace.

Kick-starting conversations at the meeting, the moderator and anchor of the popular Journalists’ Hangout on TVC, Mr. Babajide Otitoju, emphasized the need for participants to give candid opinions that would help Governor Sanwo-Olu take the most beneficial decision on okada.

Otitoju gave examples of states that had banned the mode of commercial transportation, saying “When Boko Haram was using okada to kill people, the government had no choice but to ban okada in Kano. If it can happen in Kano, I am convinced a total ban can work in Lagos”.

He cited examples of other States that had banned okada as Akwa Ibom and Enugu.

The Lead Speaker at the forum, Prof. Bamidele Badejo, Dean of the Faculty of Social and Management Sciences, Olabisi Onabanjo University Ago-Iwoye, traced the emergence of motorcycles as a means of transportation in Lagos to the economic depression in the early eighties.

He, however, noted that the advent of ‘okada’ heralded security and safety challenges, health consequences, confusion on highways, and a high level of indiscipline and harassment on Lagos roads, among others.

Prof. Badejo insisted that commercial motorcycles must be banned because the trend does not comply with “global best practices for mobility infrastructure development” and its health consequences, such as pollution; smoke emission, and, abuse of drugs, among riders, as well as security and safety challenges.

Expressing confidence in the State Government’s transportation plan, Prof. Badejo said that completion of the ongoing rail and road projects as well as the opening of the waterways would remove the need for okada in any part of Lagos.
The panelists – Mr. Sanya Oni, a representative of the media; Nelson Ekujumi, an activist and representative of Civil Society Organisations; Chairman of the National Youth Council of Nigeria (Lagos State Chapter), Comrade Olalekan Sulaimon-Oba, and Alhaji Azeez Amusat, Chairman Lagos State Community Advisory Council – were unanimous in their recommendations that the Government should ban okada across all Local Governments and Local Council Development Areas.

The youth representative stated that his constituency is hundred percent in support of a “total ban” and was emphatic that the government should ensure that all Local Governments and Local Council Development Areas stop the issuance of riders’ permits to commercial motorcyclists.

Sulaimon-Oba went on: “Politicians should stop empowering youths with okada in Lagos State. The government should also not relax the ban due to approaching elections”.

Also at the event were security chiefs, traditional rulers, and religious leaders, who were all in support of a ban on commercial motorcycles operating in Lagos.

Oba Segun Ajasa of Onigbongbo said; “Okada should be banned all over. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. It is used to steal and snatch phones. Okada is not a good thing because the riders are looking for fast money. That is our experience”.

The Grand Chief Imam of Ikorodu Division, Fadheelat Sheikh Seifudeen A. A. Olowo-Oribi, applauded Governor Sanwo-Olu for providing various empowerment programs for youths.

Sheikh Olowo-Oribi noted that many okada riders have arms and ammunition in their possession.

“Tell Mr. Governor to make the ban total across local governments to ensure safety all over the State”, he said.
Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation Mr. Sola Giwa urged all participants to return to their communities and “walk the talk” on decisions taken at the stakeholder engagement.

The event was attended also by members of the State Executive Council, including Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources Mr. Tunji Bello, and the Commissioner for Housing Mr. Moruf Akinderu-Fatai.

Also present were the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Mr. Kamal Olowosago, the Executive Assistant to the Governor on New Media and Public Relations, Mr. Olusegun Fafore, and other top functionaries of the State Government.

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