PEACEFUL PROTEST GOES AWRY

There would be no gainsaying that the ban on certain forms of transportation in some parts of Lagos state left a sour taste in the mouths of residents many of whom have been very vocal in condemning the state government for the action. The Physically Challenged were one of such aggrieved parties as they staged a peaceful protest to demand a practical solution to the situation. That was not be however, as their leaders were whisked away by people suspected to be working for the state authorities.

It is a situation that has been decried by many Civil Society groups in Nigeria. Among them are the Justice and Empowerment Initiatives Nigeria working with the Physically Challenged Empowerment Initiative (PCEI), and the Nigerian Slum / Informal Settlement Federation (Federation) who issued a statement condemning what they termed “the attacks on and arrest of persons living with disabilities on peaceful protest during the night of 25-26 February 2020”. 

Signed by Meghan Chapman, the missive called for the immediate release of Mohammed Zanna, Sarkin Abubakar Umaru, Shehu Issa Daiyanu, Guragu Mustapha Bello, and Guragu Yunusa Mohammed, insisting that the charges brought against them to be dropped. They urged the Governor of Lagos state, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to respond to the petitions and requests and added voice to those praying for a reversal of the keke ban in favor of pro-people regulation.  It will be recalled that the Lagos State government had on the 27th of January 2020 prohibited the operations of okada and tricycle riders in six of its 37 local government areas. The government, embarked on this action as part of efforts aimed at enforcing the Lagos State Transport Sector Reform Law (2018). Tricycles (Keke Napep) and motorcycles, both very popular means of transportation, have been off the roads, resulting in a great deal of discomfort for residents. Lagos, despite a comparatively small land mass, is easily one of Nigeria’s most populous states owing to its commercial viability. The policy is said to have been implemented in a bid to reduce the number of fatalities and serious injuries as well as criminal activity said to be linked to these forms of transportation.

The Physically Challenged who, even at the best of times, find that the state tends to be oblivious to their needs with regard to public facilities, have been the worst hit. This was what propelled them to stage a peaceful protest which does not appear to have achieved the desired result.  

Premium Times (Nigeria) is reporting that neither the Police nor the state government have accepted responsibility for the situation as both sides have claimed ignorance of the situation.

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