Okada riders have cried out over the recent increase of motorcycle thefts with over 15 motorcycles stolen within the Makurdi metropolis and its environs over the past eight months.
An investigation by the authors revealed that areas notorious for motorcycle theft include, Makurdi Modern Market, Wadata and Wurukum markets, Holy Ghost Catholic Church, Akpehe and George Akume Way. These areas record daily incidents of motorcycle theft.
It was further revealed that criminal elements in the area have devised several ways to break every security lock put by owners and they go as far as beating security checks, especially at the Makurdi Modern Market where both riders and motorists move freely without any form of identification or pass-card.
One of the victims of motorcycle theft, John Oije, narrated how his new blue Baja motorcycle was stolen from the Holy Ghost Catholic reception centre where he attended a wedding reception of his friend.
Oije, who was visibly emotional, stated that on that fateful day, he parked his bike and locked it as usual only to discovered after the reception that his bike had been stolen.
“I bought the motorcycle on hire purchase barely a month ago, I wonder how I and my family will survive now that I also have my rent to pay,” Oije lamented. On whether he reported the matter to the police, he said that the matter was immediately reported at the “D” Division police station but he is yet to receive any useful information after several visits.
Comrade Aondowase Shinyi, who is the Public Relations Officer of the Benue Motorcycle Association (BEMOA) was also among the victims of this ugly trend as he was robbed of his Jinchen motorcycle at gunpoint by two suspected criminals at about 8:00 pm while returning from his okada business.
Comrade Shinyi has said that his bike has still not been found despite reporting the matter to the “E” police station, Akpehe, the area where the incident occurred and to date, the police are yet to recover the motorcycle.
Lamenting on the situation, Shinyi stated that, “Okada business is becoming [riskier] as members complained of their bikes being stolen with three of them losing their lives recently in the process.” He further stated that, between January and August 2021, more than 15 motorcycles were stolen and appeals have been made to the security agencies to intervene.
Another victim who simply identified himself as Abuchi narrated how his bike was also stolen from the premises of Access bank PLC (formerly Diamond bank) on the popular Old Otupko road.
He said that he parked his bike to make a transaction and when he finished, he came out only to discover that his bike had disappeared into thin air but reported the matter to the “B” Division of Police in the area.
However, a 25-year-old Aondowase Azer, a graduate of Nasarawa state university was very lucky as he narrated how he narrowly escaped from these criminal elements.
Azer recalled that he conveyed two passengers on that fateful day when suddenly one of them asked him to stop but refused to do so until he reached a drinking joint in the area. He said immediately they noticed that he understood their motives, they alighted and went their way without paying him and he zoomed off immediately.
Meanwhile, an investigation further revealed that between 2020 and 2021, about 8 suspected motorcycle snatchers were burnt to ashes by angry mobs at different locations in Makurdi and its environs. It was also discovered that these criminals also operate as syndicates controlling the various locations.
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, Benue state command, DSP Catherine Anene confirmed the incidents. “Our men have been drafted to these areas noted for such nefarious activities, okada riders should avoid such spots especially at nights” She warned members of the public to desist from taken laws into their hands as the police will not deal decisively with them if caught.
However, she was quick to add that, even when the motorcycles were recovered, their owners do not come forward to claim them for lack of proof of ownership or valid documents.
It will be recalled that some years back, the Benue State Commissioner of Police at the time, CP Bashir Makama (Now AIG retired), ordered a clampdown on motorcycle operators and owners while the state government banned their movements beyond 8:00 pm in the state to stem the ugly trend with many stolen motorcycles recovered but yet to be claimed by their owners.
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