The attrition war between the police and commercial motorcyclists otherwise called okada over government’s regulation of motorcycle operations in Akwa Ibom state is yet to abate.
This is as the police and the okada riders clashed on Tuesday in the oil city of Eket resulting in the death of two commercial motorcyclists and the burning of a Volvo station wagon car used by the police for surveillance.
Police spokesman, Odiko MacDon SP confirmed the incident and said that 19 suspects have been arrested in connection with the fracas in Eket.
MacDon said the suspects arrested had defied government’s restriction order which allows Okada riders to operate between 6 am and 6 pm.
He insisted that the police cannot be intimidated to stop the enforcement of government’s directive.
Saturday’s incident happened just a week after the police allegedly killed an okada rider in Uyo which sparked off wild protest resulting in the torching of the NTA station and massive destruction of properties in the capital city.
The Nation gathered that tension in Eket reached a breaking point following an order placed by Eket local authorities restricting the operation of Okada riders to 6pm and 6am. The government had said the decision was to check the upsurge in crime in the area.
It was gathered that some okada riders did accept the restriction order and went ahead to operate beyond the government time limit.
An eyewitness Emman Okposin said the police surveillance team chased them away from the road from 5:30pm as against the 6pm deadline and that they beat his colleagues and impound their motorcycles.
Okposin said , last Sunday night one their members was shot dead by the police while chasing the operators from road.
” Last Sunday our member was shot dead in the night and the corpse has been deposited in mortuary at Immanuel General hospital , Eket.
Continuing, Okposin said the incident that caused them to revolt occurred yesterday when a policeman beat a motorcyclists and he collapsed on the spot before the victim was rushed to hospital.
He said the victim identified as Udo from Idung Udoe in the area died previous night while receiving treatment at Immanuel General Hospital , Eket.
” Our member udo from Idung Udoe in Eket died last night from injuries he sustained in the hands of police so we revolted.”
He said the youths and all motorcyclists operators took the corpse to Eket local government council and later to the area police station as the council chairman Frank Archibong was not available to address them .
Okposin said the police prevented them from entering their station and they returned the corpse to the mortuary.
He said all the cyclists and the youths regrouped and moved to police checkpoint along James Town road and burn down their patrol vehicle as policemen at the checkpoint escaped.