About 50 heavily-armed policemen from the Ogun State command, on Thursday, disrupted the “ember month” enlightenment campaign cum seminar organised for commercial tricycle and motorcycle riders in the state.
The security operatives, drawn from different units within the Command, stormed the Omoyinmi Hall, venue of the campaign, which is located along the Ayetoro road, in the Abeokuta metropolis, and ordered the close to 3, 000 participants and their Abuja guests to vacate the premise or risked being attacked.
The National Commercial Tricycle and Motorcycle Owners and Riders Association (NACTOMORAS) had organised the seminar which has as its theme: “Road Accident Prevention/Control and Drug Abuse”, where the state’s Sector Commander of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Adegoke Adetunji, was scheduled to lecture members of the transport unions.
While the event was about to start, armed plain-clothes policemen stormed the hall, where the FRSC Sector Commander was already seated along with other state and federal agencies, which included representatives of the state-owned Traffic Compliance and Enforcement Corps (TRACE), the National Association of Seadogs, popular known as the Pyrates’ Confraternity, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), as well as media practitioners and chased out everybody from the hall.
The armed, plain-clothes security officers were later joined by armed uniformed policemen and chased away over 1, 000 members of NACTOMORAS.
While attempting to persuade the armed NDLEA officers who were also billed to deliver lecture at the seminar, the intruding armed security operatives claimed that they were ordered by the state government to stop the workshop.
Thereafter, the security operatives cordoned off the area.
One of the facilitators at the botched workshop, Alhaji Sikirulahi Ogundele, who is also a member of the Pyrates’ Confraternity said NACTOMORAS invited the organisation to join the FRSC, the NDLEA and others to enlighten its members on road safety during the ‘ember months’.
He noted that the Pyrates’ Confraternity, which had members who were professionals in various endeavours, honoured the invitation to the workshop because of its primary concern with the preservation of lives.
Also speaking with journalists, NACTOMORAS’ Public Relations Officer, Alhaji Jubril Bada, claimed that the association got the necessary permissions from the police and other relevant bodies before embarking on the campaign.
“We don’t know what has really happened; nobody has told us anything. We informed all the necessary agencies about the workshop. We have very good intention. If we did not have good intention, we would not have invited the FRSC, NDLEA, the Pyrates’ Confraternity and the media,” Bada said.
Reacting on the incident, Deputy Police Public Relations Officer, Abimbola Oyeyemi explained that the command got a tip-off that there was going to be a breakdown of law and order between the organisers of the programme, NACTOMORAS and the two transport unions recognised by the state government.
Oyeyemi further stated that the Commissioner of Police, Abdulmajid Ali, had to order the suspension of the workshop to avoid a clash between NACTOMORAS and the two other Okada riders association in the state: ACOMORAN and AMORAN.
But the Ogun State Government denied any involvement in aborted safety campaign.
Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Media, Adejuwon Soyinka said, “I can confirm to you that the state government was not in any way involved in the situation at that meeting. Whatever happened there was purely a police affair and I will implore you to seek further clarifications from the state police command.”