If you’ve ever had the misfortune of accidentally knocking down an Okada rider in Lagos and unleashing the venom of their mob, you have an idea about what I’m saying.
They will surround you like wild bees; stinging, shouting obscenities at you, hitting your vehicle, breaking your windscreen, poking at you aggressively. Your initial reaction would be one of shock because you totally didn’t see the rider as you backed into a street corner to make a U-Turn. Whereas the rider who had seen you, should have slowed down. But something whispered a stupid idea into his head and told him he could narrowly zip past before you complete that turn.
But you hit him, cutting short his stunt performance and he, suddenly realizing has no spare life hanging in his cupboard at home, lies sprawled on the road with his wheels still spinning from the suddenness of the accident. You are shocked but thankfully there is no blood. You are too shaken to move from your car but soon spring out, concerned for the stunned rider.
The other riders begin to converge around you.
You see them crossing lanes with raised fists and mouthing all manner of war expletives against you.
But you are concerned about the rider whose senses seem to have arranged itself in his head; telling him he could’ve just died…But instead of admitting he hit you from behind as you backed to make a U-turn; he is emboldened by his colleagues and begins to scream at you. He springs up and attacks you!
Unfortunately for you, at this time, they have surrounded your vehicle. You can’t even move or get into your car. Yet, you beg.
Your plea for mercy isn’t heard above the noise of the traffic around you and the vehemence of the riders swelling in a thick ring like vicious angry bees.
You offer to take responsibility for the injured okada rider, who though appears uninjured, is busy trashing your car out of vexation and soon joined by a few.
Nobody hears you at this point because they have begun to push you around. They are poking at your face, slapping you, beating their chests and threatening to light you up….Here’s the kicker. No one can come to your rescue because you suddenly represent the oppressors of this country.
You have a car…
Your car has AC;…
You don’t seem to work but have used “bottom power” to earn the car you drive…
You’re “ashawo!” as you couldn’t’ never have worked hard enough to buy a car!
Before you know it, you represent a government that has failed its people. You are the icon of waste they have to suffer for, every day.
So, they keep taking jabs at you.
You are at their mercy now because whatever you say will be used against you.
You look furtively around for a face that represents reason…but find none.
What of a policeman, policemen…policewomen, even…nothing.
The hostage takers will not let you go easy.
Any attempt to run free of the thick crowd of angry riders braying for your blood will be the catalyst to ignite you and burn you alive!
When I heard about David who was burned alive at Admiralty road, Lekki just yesterday, I knew he must have felt what the venom of a mob of Okada riders feels like.
I knew the trepidation he felt the last few moments of his life.
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Who is David?
He is the sound engineer said to have gone to intervene in a brawl between Okada riders and his friends over N100.
According to a report by Punch, David’s friends, Frank and Philip had an altercation over N100 change from an Okada rider they took. The rider, not satisfied with being owed N100, pulled at the shirt of one of the two. That one responded by punching the rider who fell unconscious. This immediately angered other riders who were initially spectating.
Fellow riders came to fight for one of their own, beating Frank and Phillip to a pulp. David, who was setting up for a show at Beers Barn close by, was told his friends were being beaten by a mob of riders. He went to intervene and got beaten and subsequently set on fire.
I know what it feels like when confronted by a mob. Your heart is pounding. You tell yourself, surely people are seeing what is going on…
Surely in broad daylight, the police will come, at least to disperse this throng of bloodthirsty riders…
In David’s case, the police didn’t come. In fact, some online commenters said the police saw the fray from afar and relocated to a safer, quieter part of the environment…
“The mob has many heads but no brain.”
All they see is an oppressor they must kill; regardless of the fact that the so-called “oppressor” is working hard to take something home to his/her family.
Thankfully for me, an elderly gentleman fought his way through the thick crowd, berating the horde for their actions.
He ordered me back into my car; stood guard to ensure the mob parted for me to drive away…Other drivers, apparently, had come out of their cars and dared the riders to do any harm…They were my angels.
I don’t even know who they were.
It took just one person to stand up for me…and others followed.
What if no one stood up?
It’s easy to blame poverty for actions like these.
But the truth is, some people are just animals, plain and simple. Animals in human skin!