Despite a court order prohibiting such action, the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) says its proscription by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s government leaves much to be desired.
RTEAN national president Musa Mohammed stated this while speaking to journalists after a one-day peaceful protest by the Trade Union Congress (TUC) on Monday in Ikeja.
RTEAN is a trade union registered under the Trade Unions Act. Cap T 14 Laws of the Federation 2004.
In April, the Lagos Division of the National Industrial Court nullified the appointment of an ad hoc committee by Mr Sanwo-Olu to run the affairs of RTEAN and reinstated the union’s elected leadership.
Mr Mohammed said despite the order invalidating the state government’s action against the union’s operations, Mr Sanwo-Olu’s government refused to lift the ban on RTEAN’s activities.
“It is unfortunate that the very members who engineered and carried out the fracas are part of the people the governor appointed as members of the caretaker committee,” stated the RTEAN president. “We are owners of vehicles. We are not touts, and that is why we went to court to seek justice, and we got justice, but the state government is bent on illegality.”
Mr Mohammed added, “All we want now is for the government to end illegality by implementing the court order that has restored the operations of RTEAN in the state.”
Mr Mohammed appealed to the Lagos governor to unseal the union’s office.
Meanwhile, the TUC on Monday staged a peaceful protest in Lagos, demanding implementation of the court order restoring operations of RTEAN in Lagos.
TUC, which noted that the government had no stay of execution to stop industrial pronouncement, demanded the release of seized vehicles and the opening of RTEAN’s office.
The protesters marched to the Lagos assembly, where they were received by some lawmakers, led by Adedamola Kasunmu, the deputy majority leader.
TUC president Festus Osifo, while speaking with journalists at the Lagos parliament during the solidarity protest with RTEAN, said the protest became necessary as the Sanwo-Olu government refused to obey the court’s order.
“We approached the industrial court for judgment and it was clearly stated that the Lagos State Government has no right to proscribe trade unions,” said Mr Osifo. “We wrote a letter to the State Governor to open the office of RTEAN, which they forcefully took over and release their vehicles, which were seized by government officials.”
Mr Kasunmu, who received the union on the speaker’s behalf, commended the TUC’s leadership for its peaceful protest, promising that the union’s message would be forwarded to the speaker and that the TUC would hear from the leadership of the parliament soon.
In September 2022, Mr Sanwo-Olu ordered the immediate suspension of all activities of RTEAN in Lagos, citing violence in Ojo and Lagos Island as reasons.
Later in October, Mr Sanwo-Olu set up a 35-man ad hoc committee to take over RTEAN’s activities.
The committee, known as Lagos State Park Administrators Ad Hoc Committee on the Operations of Commercial Road Transport Workers Activities within Garages and Motor Parks, was headed by Sulaiman Adeshina Raji with Bamgbose Oluseyi as deputy chairman, forcing RTEAN to sue the Lagos government in October 2022 to challenge the dissolution of its committee.