The Center for Human and Socio-Economic Rights (CHSR) has condemned the role played by the Lagos State Government in the ongoing leadership tussle in the state chapter of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW).
The group, in a statement by its President, Alex Omotehinse, said the leadership tussle in the state chapter of the NURTW has caused security concerns for residents and road users who are “now being harassed, assaulted occasionally harmed, intimidated and killed on (a) daily basis through the modus- operandi of the park management alleged to be teleguided by men and some officers of the Nigeria police under Lagos state command”.
According to the group, between April 19 and 23, at least 1,000 transport vehicles were vandalised. It added that a filling station was attacked due to alleged links with the chairman of the Tricycle Owners & Operators Association Of Nigeria (TOOAN).
CHSR condemned what it described as a selective encroachment, asking, “Why are TOOAN parks the only ones being subjected to attack while okada (commercial motorcycle) riders union, RTEAN and tricycle operators’ union that is affiliated to RTEAN are still operating? This is a pure show of injustice on the part of the state government (government making thuggery a lucrative business).”
The group further condemned the Nigeria Labour Congress over its silence on the issue, saying it ought to have resolved the dispute.
According to the statement, the NURTW and TOOAN were independent unions until they were merged under Governor Babatunde Fashola’s administration in the state. However, they retained their structure.
The trouble started when the former chairman, Alhaji Musiliu Akinsanya, popularly known as MC Oluomo, emerged as the NURTW Lagos state council chairman and dissolved the organogram, limiting them to a zonal level, the statement by the group said.
It said the action taken by MC Oluomo contravened and negated the bilateral relationship existing between them as an affiliate.
The NURTW national body subsequently suspended Oluomo, according to the provisions of their constitution but the latter invited the Lagos State Government to proscribe the activities of the union in the state.
The CHSR said it came as a shock when, less than 24 hours, the state House of Assembly “stooped so low by summoning an emergency preliminary section to yield to MC Oluomo’s call, asking the Lagos State government to take over union activities in Lagos state and the Assembly quickly dusted the state archive and came out with Lagos State Park And Garden Authority law established and abandoned since 2011 (which has not been operating)”.
“The Lagos State government through the office of the Commissioner for Information announced the taking over of parks and garages in the state (what a shameful reaction),” the group said.
The CHSR said it was shameful that the Lagos State House of Assembly could be proactive regarding MC Oluomo’s call when it had yet to summon an emergency preliminary session to address security challenges facing the state.
The group referred to the case of deceased Bamishe Ayanwole, a young lady who was allegedly kidnapped, raped and murdered by a driver of the public Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).
The CHSR added, “The ingenuity and insincerity of Lagos State government in banning the operation of NURTW is seen to the blind and heard to the deaf as Road Transport Employee Association of Nigeria (RTEAN), a twin sister of NURTW were left operating without check.
“Even after they banned NURTW, MC Oluomo’s men are still on road harassing transporters and road users on a daily basis while the government looks away; this clearly shows that the Lagos State government’s target was not to ban union activities but to fight back the national body of NURTW for suspending their so-called man and representative in the union.
“This is typically a show of might by the Lagos State government as the extortion of transporters and road users are still very much rooted in the state (Lagosians are being milked by government proxy).
“While going through the composition of high powered 25 members of the Lagos State Park Management Committee, the Lagos State Government has trampled on the act that established the law.
“According to section 12 of the act, there shall be a general manager who will be the chief executive officer and be responsible for the general administrative and day-to-day activities of the park management with five other members but the committee as composed is alien to the law of the state, wherein the act as constituted and signed by law is the provision for executive chairman and governor liaison officer?”
The group called on the state government to review its actions and take a U-turn.
It added, “The State government should retrace its step by calling both the NURTW National body, the suspended Lagos State council chairman MC Oluomo and all the stakeholders in the transportation sector for genuine dialogue in order to make an amicable resolution in the interest of peaceful co-existence.
“Lagos State House of Assembly must as a matter of urgency reconvene another emergency plenary section that will comprise all stakeholders, including the civil society to debate a way out and fashion a reasonable solution before the issue degenerate beyond expectations as the transport sector is one of the most critical sectors that involved all citizens
“The Lagos State government should play the role of an unbiased umpire and be a true peacemaker by reconstituting the committee to incorporate critical, stakeholders in the transportation sector and to include them in the committee. members of other factions as mentioned above.
“We demand that the Lagos State commissioner of police should direct his officers and men to always maintain their neutrality in approaching this issue anywhere in the state where it is seen that there is an attack on the other faction rather than protecting one against another.