Commercial motorcyclists in Nigeria, known as “Okada,” went to war against authorities for what one side says is an unfair tax on their businesses which ended in some 15-20 people sustaining injuries.
The battle began when an Okada operator refused to pay union dues and began scuffling with a union official. The fracas escalated to a pitched battle where combatants used machetes and arrows to resolve their dispute.
Commissioner of Police Ibrahim Maishanu said no one has been arrested in connection with the riot which broke out in Ado-Ekiti, Nigeria.
The bloody war between commercial motorcycle riders brought other commercial activities in the state capital to a halt and riders, business people and some banks closed up shops and stopped work for the day. Witnesses said the clash broke out around 10 am when the Okada rider allegedly refused to pay the dues the local government collects on a daily basis from commercial motorcyclists. The man allegedly responsible for the affair called on his fellow riders to take up arms against authorities on the scene.
The Chairman of the Okada Riders Association of Ekiti State, Ademo Olu Martins, disagreed with this assessment of the situation and said it was not the request for dues which caused the battle. Martins said the riot began when the rider failed to produce registration papers for his motorcycle when asked to do so by the officers of his association. Martins said riders are often asked to produce valid papers for their bikes to demonstrate legal ownership and that some stolen motorcycles have been recovered in the past as a result of the requests.
Femi Owoeye, a local riders association official, said the rider who started the fracas refused to produce his papers, called on fellow tribal members to join the argument, and what started as an intra-union disagreement quickly degenerated into “an ethnic clash” as members of different tribes at the scene ramped up the brutality until the attack ultimately left 15-20 people injured.