14 February 2002

Nigeria: Charly Boy, 50 Okada Riders Arrested By NDLEA

PUNK king and self acclaimed president of commercial motorcyclists, popularly called Okada, Mr. Charles Oputa and fifty motorcyclists were Tuesday evening arrested and detained by officials of National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) for forcefully breaking into their premises in Ikoyi. Reports said Mr. Oputa alias Charly Boy and the commercial motorcyclists broke into NDLEA headquarters around 4pm Tuesday and invaded the premises with placards shouting slogans against Lagos State government.

Eyewitness account said the presence of the motorcyclists led by Charly Boy caused pandemonium as workers of the drug agency took to their heels. The story took a different dimension after security officials of the agency who were heavily armed re-grouped and halted the invaders who had already broken into the office of one their Directors and assaulted him.

Reports said that after they were overpowered, Charly Boy who claimed to be their spokesman told surprised officials of the agency that they invaded the premises to demand for the immediate payment of N1 million which he (Charly Boy) claimed the agency was owing him. However, the placard carrying commercial motorcyclists quickly said they were ignorant of Charly Boy s claim but stated that they were protesting against Lagos state government s imposition of a uniform on them when Charly Boy called all of them to come with him.

The motorcyclists who quickly lowered their placards caused a stir as they confronted Charly Boy for explanations which he (Charly Boy) quickly made by telling NDLEA officials that the motorcyclists were ignorant of his mission in NDLEA premises.

Reports said some NDLEA agents quickly pounced on the Punk king and were brutalizing him until the Agency s spokesman, Mr. Aju Ame quickly intervened and took him into his office while the remaining fifty motorcyclists were clamped into their cell. Mr. Oputa was however later taken to the cell after he made statements on his mission to the premises of the agency.

Legal Adviser to Charly Boy and controversial Lagos lawyer, Mr. Festus Keyamo who was seen inside the premises of NDLEA yesterday trying to secure bail for him around 4pm said his client (Charly Boy) was detained after he stormed the place demanding for payment of debt owed him by NDLEA.

According to Mr. Keyamo, "he did certain advert for the Agency. His account is that he came in peacefully and told the Accountant to pay his money within the next one week and walked out. Whether Charly Boy was saying the truth or not, I know that the offence is not a capital one and he should not be here for more than today. He should be charged to court".

"On the Okada riders, I am yet to hear from them. But their officers I met condemned their action. I am yet to hear from them in order to balance the opinion. I just saw Charly Boy inside the cell and he said he wanted to remain silent. They (officials of NDLEA) are juggling the option. They said by tomorrow, they may take him to court."

Mr. Keyamo further confirmed that he (Charly Boy) was brutalized by officials of NDLEA. "He is totally finished. His left eye is gone, he has bruises all over his body. What I will assure you is that whether they bail him or not, I am heading to court tomorrow morning (today) to challenge his detention without trial."

NDLEA officials who earlier refused to comment on the development came out later around 6pm with a statement signed by their Assistant Director, Public Affairs, Mr. Aju Ameh.

"At about 4pm Tuesday, Charly boy brought a gang of about 55 Okada riders who forced their way into our premises in an attempt to cause bodily harm to one of the Directors. Our officers succeeded in bringing the situation under control and the agency is presently investigating the matter with a view to ascertaining why the mob came to obstruct officers of the agency from performing their duties. The case will soon be charged to court, probably tomorrow (today) at the Federal High Court, Ikoyi. We will arraign him on Friday on a six counts charge."

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