There was chaos on the Goza section of the Airport Road in Abuja following a confrontation between commercial motorcyclists, popularly called Okada riders, and members of the FCT taskforce on Monday.
Soon after the incident started at about 10 a.m. the social media was agog with panic posts, some accompanied with video clips of irate youths, advising residents to stay away from the flashpoint.
The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Police Command has reacted to the incident.
Our reporter also spoke with some witnesses who gave an insight into how the incident started.
Ibrahim Sa’ad, a tricycle rider, who was at the scene when it started, said the incident was triggered by the FCT taskforce who came to impound motorcycles by the Goza bridge for alleged violation of traffic rules.
“Okada riders were standing there, waiting for passengers at the side of the bridge when the (FCT taskforce) came. They seized their machines (motorcycles), about 10, which they put in their vehicles and they started leaving when the Okada men went to block them,” Mr Sa’ad said.
“Except for the tyres they put on the road, they didn’t attack anybody. To the best of my knowledge, nobody was killed or wounded,” Mr Sa’ad said.
Another witness, a groundnut hawker, said the motorcyclists armed with tyres, sticks and stones, had crossed to the other side of the highway to prevent the FCT taskforce from going away with their motorcycles.
Meanwhile the FCT police spokesperson, Josephine Adeh, in a statement, described the incident as an “uncultured display of dissatisfaction by commercial motorcycle riders popularly called Okada”.
Ms Adeh said the Okada riders, “took to the streets, burning tyres and other substances following the activities of the taskforce who had earlier confiscated some motorcycles for certain violations.”
She said the police had restored normalcy to the area and warned members of the public against spreading fake news.
“Consequent upon the above, members of the public are urged to eschew the generation and promulgation of fake news or contrary narratives and to go about the discharge of their lawful businesses without the fear of harassment or molestation of any kind or from any quarters. Meanwhile, monitoring and surveillance continue on the scene while an effort is ongoing to arrest miscreants responsible for the disturbance of public peace,” she added.
She also noted that “the burning of combustible material on tarred road amounts to the vandalisation of government properties and the full wrath of the law will be meted out on erring person(s).”
The incident had sent a wave of panic around Abuja, which recently experienced a jailbreak in Kuje and an attack on the presidential guards in Bwari.