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The Growing Threat Of Urban Bandits

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ACTS of extreme violence perpetrated last week in Lagos and Abuja by commercial motorcycle (Okada) operators could be pointers that the rampaging terrorist bandits ravaging states in the North such as Zamfara, Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Kaduna and Katsina, may have infiltrated our major urban centres.

In Lagos, a misunderstanding between these strange elements and citizen David Imoh, which should have been settled amicably or reported to the police, led to the murder and burning of Imoh by the Okada men.

These elements are not the typical Lagos residents. No one knows where they come from or where they live. They are armed with daggers and are quick to gather and attack anyone at the slightest misunderstanding.

These same elements were responsible for the burning down of Dei Dei building materials market in Abuja on Wednesday, May 18, 2022. One of their members whose reckless riding led to the death of his female passenger was apprehended by traders when he tried to run.

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This brought his colleagues armed with machetes and petrol. They killed five people, set fire to the market, looted and vandalised shops.

Many of them are Nigerians mostly from the North and foreigners from neighbouring countries in the Sahel. Ordinarily, there is nothing wrong in people from any part of the country settling in other areas or even neighbouring countries in search of greener pastures.

After all, both Nigerians and non-Nigerians have lived together peacefully since time immemorial.

Nigeria is a country that is known for the spirit of being our brother’s keeper. It is their penchant for extreme violence and lawlessness that set them apart from law-abiding citizenry.

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Our fear is that these strange elements whose massive movements into the South was intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic lock-downs in 2020, could one day become a pawn in the hands of terrorism sponsors. They are now everywhere, even in the rural areas, armed, operating their bikes in their usual daredevil manner and ready to kill anyone who crosses their paths.

There are fears that these people could one day stage an armed uprising to destabilise our civic and social order.

This was how the bush-based bandits started as petty cattle rustlers before they became bandits who can now attack our military targets, airports, railways and highways.

We call on state governments to liaise with security agencies and local vigilantes to profile their identities at all localities. All Okada operators must be disarmed, registered with the commercial motorcycle unions and licenced only when they pass road use tests.

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Members of our military, police or security services who employ these people must also bear vicarious responsibilities for unleashing people of questionable character and intentions on the populace.

These people constitute threats to our collective security and must be checked.

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