A bloody clash between policemen and commercial motorcylists popularly called okada yesterday in Ibadan left no fewer than seven policemen and two commercial okada riders injured.
Also, the police station at Kuola, Apata, five vehicles and seven motorcycles were torched by the aggrieved okada riders who complained bitterly about alleged high-handedness of the policemen in the area.
The melee which lasted about three hours sacked Apata and its environs.
According to eyewitness account, the crisis ensued when an okada rider allegedly violated a police directive that banned them from carrying two passengers.
The culprit was promptly arrested and taken to the police station.
Disatisfied by the arrest of their colleague, about 45 okada riders mobilized themselves and stormed the police station demanding the release of their colleague.
Vanguard gathered that the okada riders then started hauling stones and other objects at the station.
In a twinkle of an eye, the station was set ablaze.
Consequently, ten police Hilux vans loaded with armed policemen and soldiers, one armoured personnel carrier, APC were sent to the area.
Police then arrested 30 okada riders and took to the Oyo State Criminal Investigation Department.
Speaking on the incident, one of the community leaders, Engr. Ayodele Olowoyile said the police should not be blamed because due to incessant robbery attacks, landlords in the area had pleaded with the police to prevent Okada riders from gaining entry into the community but stop at the expressway. In addition, the police have been mandated to arrest any okada man who carried two passengers.
However, A university don blamed the police for the crisis. To him, there should be adequate sensitization that would enlighten the okada riders.
While the crisis lasted, journalists were barred from taking photographs.
A photographer who had taken some pictures was forced by the police to delete it.
He told the newsmen that he was acting on the orders of the Commissioner of police, Mbu Joseph Mbu.
It was observed that the crisis forced policemen to leave the area.
Reacting to the incident, the Acting Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Ayodele Lanade said policemen were trying to rescue an okada rider who fell down.
This was probably misunderstood by the okada riders who reacted violently. He said nobody died in the incident.
He said, 48 okada riders have been arrested.