In the renewed efforts to improve security and curb the menace of commercial cyclists popularly known as Okada riders, the authorities of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have hinted of moves to ban their operations in the nation’s capital.
This was disclosed yesterday by the minister Muhammed Bello and an official of the FCT when the minister featured in the weekly State House Briefing, organised by the Presidential Communication Team, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
On the menace of the motorcycle riders, the minister said the people (Okada riders) had turned into a criminal menace.
On the efforts to rid the FCT of the criminal menace, Mr. Abdullateef Bello of the Directorate of the Road Transport Service of the FCTA, said Okada operators might be banned in Abuja since all the neighbouring states had outlawed them.
He said Abuja might become a dumping ground for most of the okada riders.
He said that commercial motorcyclists would now require a license to operate within the FCT and its suburbs.
He said apart from the traffic violations, the riders were also being used to deliver hard drugs across the city.
According to Abdullateef, “The menace arising from many Okada riders is not just about traffic violations but also perpetration of crime. Okada is also used to deliver hard drugs across the city.
“It requires a multi-sectoral approach to deal with the menace. We are introducing riders certification for those using Okada for dispatch activities.
“Therefore, until you are verified by the directorate of road transport service you may not be able to ride a bike across Abuja. We are remodeling the licensing and regulations as well.
“These would be carried out to dissuade the use of Okada. A total ban has been suggested but it is still being considered.
“Some of the contiguous states are already banning. And if we don’t ban it, FCT will be a dumping ground in a few years,” he added.
The FCT Minister while answering questions on the demolition of illegal structures said though it was not his priority, it had become inevitable to save lives.
“We will continue to save lives that is why we have to demolish illegal structures. We encourage the people to follow the rules and regulations. We will do what is beneficial to the highest number of people.”
Meanwhile, the minister has ordered that individuals who request for bail for apprehended criminals to unleash them back on the society should be arrested.
Mallam Bello suggested reports that criminals arrested and facing prosecution are being released through the intervention of prominent citizens in the territory.
The minister appealed to residents to expose those involved in freeing such urchins by reporting them to authorities.
He affirmed that the criminal justice system in the territory had challenges as its three correctional facilities were now filled to capacities and unable to take in more convicts.
According to him, criminals convicted in Abuja courts are now being sent to Suleja in Niger State even as the territory is proposing what he called a “bolster centre” to accommodate underage convicts.
He told residents of Abuja to own the city and report to security agencies any criminal activities around their vicinity.
The minister also said that he had demystified the office of the minister by devolving real powers to agencies which empowered them to carry out their responsibilities without undue interference.
He blamed the need for the demolition of structures in the territory on the failure of past ministers to properly carry out their responsibilities.
According to him, if agencies had been able to do their jobs, the structures earmarked for demolition would not have sprung up in the first place.
Speaking further, the minister explained that unoccupied estates in Abuja “is something that arose