Proscription: Obey court order as progressives, RTEAN tells Sanwo-Olu

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Lagos.

The Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) says continuous proscription of the union operations by the Lagos State Government in spite of court order prohibiting such action leaves much to be desired.

The National President, RTEAN, Alhaji Musa Mohammed, made this remark while speaking to newsmen 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, a Federal Enactment and affiliate of TUC.

The National Industrial Court sitting in Lagos in April nullified the appointment of an ad-hoc committee put in place by Gov Babajide Sanwo-Olu to run the affairs of RTEAN in the state and reinstated the union’s elected leadership.

Mohammed said that despite the order which invalidated the state government’s action against the union’s operations, the government was yet to lift its ban on the union’s activities.

According to him, pockets of crisis, which necessitated the proscription, were instigated by a group of backdoor power-seekers within the union.

“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.

“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 state government is unfair to the union with its action.

He said that two out of the over 320 chapels of the association had leadership crisis and the association was resolving the issue before the proscription.

Mohammed appealed to Sanwo-Olu to unseal the association’s Lagos State 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 opening of the RTEAN’s office.

The protesters marched to the Lagos State House of Assembly, where they were received by some lawmakers, led by Mr Adedamola Kasunmu, the Deputy Majority Leader.

The President of TUC, Comrade Festus Osifo, while speaking with newsmen at the Lagos State House of Assembly during the solidarity protest with RTEAN, said that the protest became necessary as the government had failed to yield to court judgment and the request of the union on the matter.

Osifo said: “We know that trade unionism is not in the concurrent list and so a state government does not have the power to proscribe a trade union. This is absolutely the responsibility of the federal government.

“We approached the industrial court for judgement and it was clearly stated that the Lagos State Government has no right to proscribe trade unions.

“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,”

Responding to the protesters, the Deputy Majority Leader, Kasunmu, who received the union on behalf of the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, commended the leadership of the TUC for its peaceful protest.

Kasunmu assured protesters that their message would be forwarded to the speaker and that the TUC would hear from the leadership of the House soon.

Recall that, in Sept. 2022,, Sanwo-Olu had ordered the immediate suspension of all activities of RTEAN in the state.

The government said the suspension become necessary following some pockets of violence recorded in Ojo and Lagos Island areas of the state.

The state government, later in October, set up a 35-man ad-hoc committee, to take over activities of the Union.

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 Hon. Sulaiman Adeshina Raji with Bamgbose Oluseyi as Deputy Chairman.

The RTEAN subsequently instituted the suit in Oct. 2022 to challenge the Lagos State Government for dissolving the elected executives’ committee of the union in the state and appointing the ad-hoc committee. 

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