The Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) yesterday protested the ban on RTEAN operations by the Lagos State government.
Hundreds of their members stormed the Lagos State House of Assembly carrying placards with inscriptions such as “President Bola Tinubu, Call Sanwo-Olu to order,” “Stop Suffocating RTEAN,” and “We are on the Exclusive List, You cannot Intimidate Us,” among others.
The protesters demanded the reversal of the ban and asked the state government to vacate the RTEAN secretariat.
It also called for the release of the seized buses of the TUC.
The National President of RTEAN, Alhaji Musa Mohammed said despite the order which invalidated the state government’s action against the union operations, the government was yet to lift ban on the activities of the union.
According to him, some state agents interested in destabilising the union that is known for peace, fed Sanwo-Olu with false information which led to the ‘illegal ban’ in 2022.
“Everyone knows that the ban on the union was done in bad taste. The governor was fed with lies about RTEAN and petty crisis instigated by a group of backdoor power-seekers within the union.
“It is sad that person (s), who instigated the ban and dissolution of properly constituted Lagos State Executive Council of RTEAN, was used by state agents, who also had vested interest, as leader (s) of the caretaker committee.
“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.
“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,” Mohammed said.
According to him, the whole world is aware that the state government is unfair to the union.
The president said that two out of the over 320 chapels of the association in the state were engulfed in leadership crisis and the association was resolving the issue before the state government pronounced proscription on the union’s operations.
“Again, 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 caretaker committee,” he added.
The president also expressed displeasure at the alleged extortions of its members by the caretaker committee constituted by the State government.
He appealed to Sanwo-Olu to unseal the association’s Lagos state office.
But reacting to the protest, the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Gbenga Omotoso, said the protest was in breach of the Rule of Law, which expects both parties to maintain the status quo, pending determination of the application for stay of execution and appeal.
“TUC/RTEAN should embrace dialogue. It is better and safer for our economic and social well-being,” Omotoso said.
Daily Trust reports that the state government had in September 2022 placed a ban on the activities of the transport association.
The ban followed pockets of violence recorded in Ojo and Lagos Island which was attributed to members of RTEAN.
The then Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation, Sola Giwa, had said the ban became imperative while announcing a 35-man caretaker committee to take over activities of the union.
However, the National Industrial Court (NIC) in an April judgment nullified the appointment of the caretaker committee known as Parks and Garages Administrators.
But the government said it had filed an appeal against the judgment.