Governor Jonah Jang
By Seriki Adinoyi in Jos
Peace was again shattered in Jos, Plateau State capital when at least three persons were feared killed in the pandemonium that ensued following the refusal of commercial motorcyclists to heed to the ban on the operation of commercial motorcycle (Okada) in Jos/Bukuru metropolis by the state government.
THISDAY gathered that two were shot around Bauchi Road while the cyclists battled with security operatives who were trying to enforce the ban, but were immediately rushed to the hospital.
The ban on Okada came after Islamist militants attacked a church during a service last Sunday, triggering reprisal attacks. The state government fear motorcycles are being used to carry out attacks.
Another three, an eye witness said, were shot by unknown persons around New road, opposite the Bukuru branch of La-Med Pharmacy, adding that two died on the spot, while the third gasped for breath as he was rushed to the hospital. He said he was eventually reported dead after a short while.
Confirming the development, the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), ASP Emmanuel Abuh, said “three persons were shot by unknown gunmen in Bukuru. The gunmen have disappeared but the police are trying their best to track them down.”
Abuh however did not link the Bukuru incident to the ban on Okada. He also refused to confirm that the victims were dead, saying that he cannot speak on the issue.
“I cannot confirm to you the level of casualties from the incidence in Bukuru for now; there are processes of sending such reports to the state headquarters. I don’t have the mandate to release the fact until it is duly reported to the appropriate quarters. I will release the report as soon as it gets to me”.
He however said, “The task force is determined to continue with the enforcement of the ban until it is sure every citizen has complied fully”.
When THISDAY visited the scene at Bukuru, there was pandemonium as the soldiers drafted to the place to restore peace fired several shots into the air, and the people ran helter-skelter, closing their shops and hurrying home. Banks located in the area also dismissed their customers as their staff hurried to safety.
It was gathered that some groups of Okada riders in Bukuru held an overnight meeting resolving to frustrate the enforcement of the ban.
“We thought they were not be serious. But as early as 7am, the group of heavily armed Hausa/Muslim laid ambush for the team of securitymen going around the city to ensure compliance with the ban. And on sighting the task force in their area, the armed youths opened fire on them, a source in the area narrated.
Abuh said, “The special task force impounded 78 motorcycles and arrested their owners for refusing to comply with the ban”.
He added that “those arrested have already been charged to the mobile courts designed for offenders and when found guilty will face the penalties as specified by the law.