A subsector of the Ogun State transport unions – motorcycle riders and owners association, popularly referred to as Okada riders on Tuesday engaged themselves in fisticuffs which caused injuries for some members of the unions.
An eyewitness reports that members of All Nigerians Auto Bike Commercial Owners and Workers Association (ANACOWA) were said to have attacked members of the Articulated Motorcycle and Riders Association of Nigeria (AMORAN) at the MKO Abiola International Stadium, the venue of Independence Day Celebration, leaving five members of AMORAN injured.
It was gathered that AMORAN members joined other associations, trade unions, schools, military and paramilitary forces to observe the traditional match past to celebrate country’s 59th Independence Day when members of ANACOWA allegedly started attacking them with machetes, sticks, charms, among other dangerous weapons.
This attack our reporter gathered could not have been unconnected with the alleged attempt by some powers that be in the government circle who had been working round the clock to replace AMORAN with ANACOWA, thereby, causing leadership tussle and rivalry between the two transport unions.
Speaking with Journalists Sanjo Onifade, branch chairman, Ifo constituency II, Agbado Ogun State, said they were quite surprised with the attack as they had only come to the stadium to rejoice and celebrate the country’s independence.
Onifade however blamed the transport committee set up by the government for the unfortunate incident, alleging that the committee had on Sunday allegedly tried to bring in the ANACOWA members which has never been in existence in the state to be in charge of giving tickets to commercial motorcycle riders popularly called Okada operating in the state.
He said, “On Sunday, the transport committee called us and said rather than printing the government tickets which we issue to commercial motorcycle riders alongside our own tickets, they are printing one for government and another one for the committee itself.
“We felt this was not the usual practice and we protested but they said they just wanted to do it that way so that they could properly monitor how much was being generated. We therefore agreed but we later got to know that they had actually recruited the ANACOWA members for the issuance of the tickets.
“This we protested because there has never been any association like that and eventually, they reasoned with us and allowed us to start issuing the tickets from Monday. So we felt, this attack was because we did not allow the illegality to sail through and we hope the security agencies will rise to our defence”.
But reacting to the crisis through a telephone chat, one of the ANACOWA leaders, Nurudeen Sogeyinbo, denied the allegation levelled against his members, saying that the AMORAN members masterminded the violence.
Sogeyinbo explained that some of his injured members were taken to hospital in state government-owned ambulance after the attack, just as he claimed that AMORAN lied against his members as they (AMORAN) were the ones that attacked ANACOWA.
He said, “They lied against us. We came to the stadium to celebrate but they attacked us without any provocation. They wounded some of our members. As a result, our members retaliated.
“The ambulance at stadium carried our injured members to the hospital. You can confirm from the police. Those aggressors even stoned policemen who were detailed to escort us from the stadium.
“They waylaid us while leaving the stadium. Thank God the police accompanied us. They started throwing stones and the police were forced to shoot into the air to scare them away.”