THE war between the police and commercial motorcyclists over government’s regulation of motorcycle operations in Akwa Ibom state is yet to abate.
On Tuesday, the cyclists or okada riders clashed with police in the oil city of Eket. Two motorcyclists died in the exchange, but a Volvo station wagon car used by the police for surveillance was also burnt by the cyclists.
Police spokesman, Odiko MacDon, a Superintendent of Police, confirmed the incident, saying that 19 suspects have been arrested in connection with the fracas.
MacDon said the suspects arrested defied government’s restriction order which allows okada riders to operate between 6am and 6pm.
He insisted that the police cannot be intimidated and will not stop the enforcement of government’s directive.
Yesterday’s incident happened just a week after the police allegedly killed an ‘okada’ rider in Uyo which sparked off wild protests resulting in the torching of the NTA station and massive destruction of properties in the capital city.
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The Nation gathered that tension in Eket reached breaking point following an order placed by Eket local authorities restricting the operation of okada riders from 6am to 6pm. The government had said the decision was to check the upsurge in crime in the area.
It was gathered that some okada riders did accept the restriction order and went ahead to operate beyond the time limit.
An eyewitness Emman Okposin said the police surveillance team chased them away from the road from 5:30pm as against the 6pm deadline and that they beat his colleagues and impound their motorcycles.
Okposin said last Sunday night one their members was shot dead by the police while chasing the operators.
“Last Sunday our member was shot dead in the night and the corpse has been deposited in mortuary at Immanuel General hospital, Eket.
Continuing, Okposin said the incident that caused them to revolt occurred yesterday when a policeman beat a motorcyclist until he collapsed on the spot before the victim was rushed to hospital.
He said the victim identified as Udo from Idung Udoe in the area died the previous night while receiving treatment at Immanuel General Hospital, Eket.
“Our member Udo from Idung Udoe in Eket died last night from injuries he sustained at the hands of police, so we revolted.”
He said the youths and all motorcyclists operators took the corpse to Eket local government council and later to the area police station as the council chairman Frank Archibong was not available to address them.
Okposin said the police prevented them from entering their station and they returned the corpse to the mortuary.
He said all the cyclists and the youths regrouped and moved to a police checkpoint along James Town road and burnt down their patrol vehicle as policemen at the checkpoint escaped.