…The Istijabah face off with MC Oluomo
…National Headquarters suspends MC Oluomo
….MC Oluomo announces withdrawal from national
…LASG suspends union across state, allegedly appoints MC Oluomo head of park management committe
The lingering crisis and melodrama between the Lagos State chapter of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and its affiliate union, Tricycle Owners Association of Nigeria (TOAN) has remained an interesting for a while. The two leaders of the unions in Lagos, Alhaji Musiliu Akinsanya, (aka MC Oluomo), and Azeez Abiola (aka Istijabah) slogged it out with each in February, 2022, with the later accusing the former of an attempt to kill him.
The is because the crisis has snowballed to an unexpected level as the Lagos State government has finally suspended the activities of the union across the state and set up Park and Garage Management Committee. An unconfirmed report which Gboyega Akosile, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has rebuffed said MC Oluomo was appointed to head the committee.
The crisis in the union started in February when, in a viral video, Istijabah had accused MC Oluomo of attempting to kill him, frame him up and hijack control of the organisation in the state. He made the claims in a video while he was explaining the circumstances he was arrested and a pump-action machine gun was recovered from him.
Alhaji Abiola Azeez-ISTIJABA in his facebook account said “I would like to advise the state chairman, NURTW. You don’t deserve any respect at all. In terms of transportation business in Lagos, we are not mates. I was surprised that I was appointed as the state chairman of Marwa (tricycle) operators. It doesn’t affect your own position. I’m merely the head of the tricycle union. You personally sent a message that you would like to have a meeting with us. I didn’t know you had set it up for me to be killed at the meeting. But God is greater than you, He didn’t allow you to take my life.
“Immediately, I signed that I was at the meeting and headed for the office, your boys attacked me, right in your presence. They assaulted me but I managed to get into my car and locked it. To show that God’s power is greater than yours, your people were unable to break the windows of the car to get at me. When that failed, you asked them to lock the gate and set my car ablaze. Someone objected. What did I do to you? You have no fear of God.”
Since then, there have been accusations and counter accusations, a development that made the National leadership of NURTW to intervene and subsequently issued query to MC Oleum for alleged insubordination. The Lagos State chairman of the NURTW however responded to the query issued to him by the national headquarters within the stipulated time, thereby avoiding disciplinary action the national headquarters had said it would mete out on him.
The national headquarters of the Union had issued queried to MC Oluomo in February over alleged insubordination and indulging in anti-union activities. In the query dated February 14, 2022, and signed by the General Secretary of the union, Kabiru Ado Yau, the national headquarters stated that Akinsanya had blatantly refused to carry out all the directives and instructions given to him in recent times by the national headquarters.
The query reads, “Our attention has been drawn to the fact that despite the National Secretariat’s directives during a meeting with you and other members of the Lagos State Administrative Council (SAC) in Abuja on February 9, 2022, pertaining to the appointment of Azeez Abiola as chairman, Lagos State NURTW Tricycle Operators, you have refused to comply. Instead, you have resorted to intimidation, harassment and assault on the newly appointed Tricycle Association Chairman.”
The national headquarters also lamented in the query that Oluomo had refused to hand over the former NURTW secretariat situated at No 360, Abule Egba on Abeokuta Expressway to the Tricycle Caretaker Committee in a bid to prevent them from using the office. The national leadership of the union further accused Akinsanya of using thugs to forcefully take over branches of his perceived enemies.
To avoid the wrath of the union, the national headquarters directed MC Oluomo “…to, within 48 hours, hand over the former state council secretariat at Abule Egba to the newly appointed Lagos state Tricycle Committee, withdraw all those men sent to take over the branches of perceived opponents, submit a written apology to the national secretariat, as failure to comply with the foregoing directives will leave the national secretariat with no option other than to take disciplinary action against you in line with the provisions of the union’s constitution.”
Responding to the query, MC Oluomo, in a letter stated that he faithfully complied with the laws guiding the union’s operations, adding that he would “never do anything to tarnish the image of the union or bring the union back to the inglorious position of being branded as thugs and disturbers of the public peace in Lagos.”
On the appointment of Alhaji Azeez Abiola as chairman, Lagos State NURTW Tricycle Operators, Akinsanya said Abiola was announced on February 9 in Abuja as one of the State Trustees and Chairman, Zone ‘C’ Tricycle Owners and Operators Association of Nigeria (TOOAN) of NURTW and not overall chairman of TOOAN in the state.
“But unfortunately, before we got back to Lagos, Abiola had been parading himself on social media as the new state chairman of TOOAN and posting a letter of appointment I was not aware to that effect.
“This is in spite of the fact that the legality of TOOAN is an issue at the National Industrial Court and the Lagos State Council is presently funding the defence in an effort to protect the corporate image of the union,” he said.
Also, Akinsanya denied knowledge of intimidation or assault on Abiola or any of his supporters. He said Abiola, as a trustee has the right of entry to the state secretariat and has never been denied the right.
“It will be demeaning of me to instruct people to beat up his supporters and I never did. On the release of former state secretariat to Abiola, Mr President (Alhaji Tajudeen Baruwa), will recall that the former State Secretariat situated on 360, Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway, Abule-Egba, Lagos has already been contracted to the Amalgamated Mega-City Transport Limited for the use of the BRT operations and they have taken over the place since and are paying us rent. Income from the venture is routinely sent to the National Headquarters. There is, therefore, no former State Secretariat to hand over as same is contractually obligated to the transport firm to his (Abiola’s) knowledge and all our knowledge.” Akinsanya said.
He also rebuffed the allegation of using thugs to forcefully take over branches of his perceived enemies, saying nothing of such ever happened since he took over. Observers are still watching to know how things will pan out in the days ahead.
…National headquarters suspends MC Oluomo
In view of the all the development, the national headquarters of the union, on March 9, 2022 announced indefinite suspension for MC Oluomo for alleged misconduct, insubordination, and inciting members of the state chapter against the apex body.
The development may not be unconnected to a protest staged by Mc Oluomo supporters during which they accused the union at national level of unnecessarily interfering in the state affairs.
The national headquarters also directed MC Oluomo to immediately hand over the mantle of leadership to his deputy chairman and release all property belonging to the transport body in his possession to State Secretary, in a bid to avoid any leadership vacuum in the state.
It alleged that the decision to place MC Oluomo on indefinite suspension was basically to prevent any breakdown of law and order after it came to its notice that he was already inciting members against the union, an act that is completely against NURTW constitution.
MC Oluomo’s suspension was contained in a letter sent to him on decisions taken by the national body as regards his recent conducts which Union described as a total disregard for the constitution governing members’ activities across the country.
In the letter dated March 9th, 2022, and sighted by Transportation Plus Magazine on Thursday, the national body stressed that it resolved to suspend MC Oluomo after it became obvious that MC Oluomo was not apologetic over his actions even after he was directed to explain reasons for embarking on such.
According to the letter signed by the General Secretary for the national body, Kabiru Yau, the Union promised to often ensure that the NURTW constitution remains sacrosanct and adhered to by members across the country.
The letter reads: “This is to convey to you that in line with Article 42 section 5, subsection I, II, III, IV, V, and VIII of the union’s constitution, you have been placed on indefinite suspension from office as State Chairman of Lagos State Council of National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) with effect from March 9th, 2022.
“Your suspension is sequel to sustained acts of insubordination and gross misconduct coupled with your clandestine plans to instigate crisis and unleash mayhem on any branch or branches of the union in Lagos state that refuses to obey your order or instructions not to accept directives from the national headquarters of the Union.
“Your orchestrated plan to attack branches that may disobey your orders aforesaid will ultimately endanger public peace and order in Lagos state. It is also very likely to threaten and/or affect the lives and property of the peace-loving people of Lagos state, particularly those doing their legitimate businesses within motor parks, hence the urgent need to take drastic actions against him.
“It is on record that you were earlier issued with queries on 25th of February 2022 and 3rd of March, 2022 respectively in which you were directed to explain the circumstances surrounding your untoward actions and to also show cause why disciplinary actions should not be taken against you for such acts of insubordination. You bluntly neglected/refuse to respond to the second query, while your response to the first query was unsatisfactory.
“In view of your suspension, you are hereby directed to hand over the mantle of leadership of the Lagos State Council to the State Deputy Chairman and also surrender all Union properties in your possession to the State Secretary of the Union forthwith”.
…MC Oluomo, Lagos NURTW withdraw from national body
But in less than 24 hours after the national headquarters of the union suspended Akinsanya, he and all members of the union in Lagos announced the withdrawn of their membership from the national body.
Rising from a meeting at the State Secretariat, Agege, Akinsanya said all attempts for an amicable resolution of the crisis with the national body have failed. He pointed out that members have protested to Lagos State Government over the state of affairs in the union.
“Being law-abiding and responsible citizens, we have decided to explore all avenues for peace in the interest of all, we will not support any action that can threaten the peace that we cherish so much in Lagos State. “Therefore, I, Comrade Musiliu Ayinde Akinsanya, on behalf of the State Administrative Council (SAC), State Executive Council (SEC) members and the entire union rank and file members of the Nationai Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Lagos State Council with over 200 Branches and Zones hereby resolve to immediate withdrawal of our membership and operation from the National body of NURTW for peace to reign in Lagos State and to write the Lagos State Governor, Lagos State Ministry of Transportation (MOT) and other relevant agencies about our decision,” he said.
Akinsanya called on Lagos Government to take over running of the affairs of the union with the constitution of a Park Management Committee for garages and parks in the state to ensure guarantee peace pending determination of the matter in the interest of public peace.
He said: “It is important to state that our action is in line with section 40 of the constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended, which provides as follows: Every person shall be entitled to assembly freely and associate with other persons, and in particular he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any association for the protection of his or her interests. This means that every person shall be entitled to join an association and exit freely without molestation.
“In view of this and the crisis at hand, Lagos State Government is hereby invited to consider its white paper on Transport Union activities, 2004 section 5C, which states that the government should take over the management of any garage or motor park where there is a crisis until such is resolved by the consultative committee.”
He urged union members to go about their activities without fear of molestation pending when the State Government will make announcement on their request.
“If you see policemen in your parks, do not be afraid. They’re on ground to protect us,” he said.
…Lagos Suspends NURTW from All Parks, Garages
Having monitored the developments in the union to that point, the Lagos State government, on Thursday night March 10, 2022, announced the suspension of the National Union of Road Transport Workers Union (NURTW) from all parks and garages across the state.
The state commissioner of information, Gbenga Omotosho disclosed the suspension in a statement on Thursday Night.
The statement reads in part “the Lagos State Government has been watching closely events in the National Union of Road Transport Workers Union (NURTW). There have been claims and counter claims over the control of the union.
“The Government has a duty to ensure the safety of lives and property of all Lagosians and visitors. Therefore, there is an urgent need to douse the unnecessary tension generated by the leadership tussle in the NURTW and protect the citizenry from the likely fallout of the situation.
“After considering the provisions of the law, the Government hereby suspends the activities of NURTW, which must cease to operate in all parks and garages in Lagos State. The Government will set up a Committee to immediately take control of the parks and garages. Members of the committee will be key stakeholders in the sector.
“The Government’s position is premised on its responsibility to ensure that there is no breakdown of law and order in all parks and garages in Lagos State”.
From all indications, more developments will still unfold. The national leaders of the union have reportedly start engaging the concerned with the aim of resolving the issues in the state. A reliable source also said the former president of the union, Yasin has started making moves to resolve the crisis.