Motorcycle and tricycle operators in Lagos State have expressed frustration over the activities of members of the Operation MESA joint security outfit around their parks in the Isheri, Idimu, and Ikotun areas in the Alimosho Local Government Area of the state.

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They accused the security officers of allegedly extorting money from them through forceful means.

Speaking to PUNCH Metro on Wednesday, the transport workers lamented that the OP MESA men allegedly move around the various parks in the community with their branded pick-up vans, thereby asking them to contribute money to them.

A tricycle rider who identified himself simply as Tunde said the officers were always in their uniforms and armed as they went about their extortion scheme.

He said, “It is time to voice out for the public to know what we are going through. The OP MESA officers are frustrating us. They come here every day and ask us to contribute money to them.

“A set of two or three officers come in the morning while another set comes in the evening. That is how they go around every park. They collect nothing less than a thousand naira from us.”

Another transporter, who gave his name as Samson, alleged that the officers usually take the law into their hands by assaulting them during their visits to the parks.

He said, “We are always in apprehension whenever they visit us. They give us nothing less than five minutes to provide the money and whenever there is a delay, they will end up beating us.

“Just last week, a tricycle rider at the Powerline unit was asked to lie down in the drainage and beaten in the process because he told them that he had not started work and did not have money on him.

“Another one at the Ile-Iwe unit had his tyre destroyed with their gun for a similar reason. While we still manage to give them the money, the assault on our members is very unfair. And there is nothing we can do about it because they are armed.”

Our correspondent gathered that officers usually conceal their identities whenever they allegedly raid the parks in the community.

Speaking in a similar tone, a motorcycle rider, who preferred anonymity, said the officers sometimes park their vans at a distance and hire motorcycles to carry out the extortion.

He said, “We have noticed that they try not to use their vans on some days. They hire motorcycle riders and go about collecting money across the parks, and once they are done, they go back to pick up their van where they secretly kept it.”

The transporters appealed to the military authorities to investigate the perpetrators of the act.

“We want the military authorities to look into our situation and call their men to order before it results in a confrontation that will lead to public disorder,” Usman, a tricyclist lamented.

The Acting Deputy Director of Army Public Relations, 81 Division, Olabisi Ayeni, could not be reached for a reaction as calls made to his telephone were not answered. Also, a text message sent to him had yet to be replied to as of the time this report was filed.

Cases of extrajudicial killings involving military officers allegedly extorting transport workers have been recorded in the past.

In February 2014, a 36-year-old tricyclist, Richard Samuel, was allegedly killed by an OP MESA official, simply identified as Mohammed, over the tricyclist’s failure to pay an illegal daily levy of N500.

On August 22, 2012, armed men suspected to be members of the OP MESA were also alleged to have killed a ‘Keke Marwa’ rider, Yusuf Oluwaseun, during an argument.-The Punch.