Nigeria is mulling a nationwide ban on motorbikes in a last-ditch attempt to crackdown on terrorists who continue to run amok in several parts of the country.
The government said the mode of transport was being used by armed jihadists to raid villages and towns across northern Nigeria, killing innocent civilians and taking hostages. It will also consider a ban on mining which is being used to illegally finance terrorist groups such as Boko Haram.
“Placing a ban on the use of motorcycles and mining activities will cut the supply of logistics to the terrorists,” said Abubakar Malami, the minister of justice.
“This will be done in the national interest”.
Motorbikes are common in Africa’s most populous country – it is estimated that over 20 per cent of the 200 million population has a bike. The controversial move was met with fierce criticism from opponents who believe that a blanket ban on motorbikes will stifle economic activity in areas that do not face a serious jihadist threat.
“If you ban the use of motorbikes in such areas – areas prone to terrorist attacks – one can understand it but if you put a blanket or overall ban in the country, I think it’s going to cause a lot of socio-economic problems,” said Mike Ejiofor, a former director of State Security Services.
This is the first time the government has toyed with the idea of a nationwide ban to target terrorist groups despite several localised bans in the past. Lagos, a megacity of more than 20 million people, banned commercial motorcycles from operating in six areas in May, accusing the drivers of committing crimes and traffic offences.
Despite a huge backlash, officials said the nationwide ban was a necessary sacrifice to deal with a proliferation of terrorist groups and armed gangs that threaten to overwhelm the giant West African country.
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