Sanwo-Olu Bans RTEAN, Union Calls for Reopening of its Office

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CEM REPORT, TRANSPORTATION | Consequent to pockets of violence recorded in Ojo and Lagos Island on Wednesday, the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, ordered the immediate suspension of all activities of the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria, (RTEAN), in the state.

According to the Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation, Sola Giwa, who made the announcement a 35-Man Caretaker Committee has been constituted to take over activities of the union henceforth.

“In a bid to fulfil one of the cardinal objectives of the T.H.E.M.E.S developmental agenda of the present administration in Lagos State as it relates to Security and Good Governance, under Traffic Management and Transportation, the Lagos State Government has suspended all activities of RTEAN with immediate effect.“

Meanwhile, the national leadership of RTEAN has appealed to the Lagos State Governor, to unseal its Lagos state office.

The union say the crisis was isolated to two of the over 320 chapels of the association in the state.

According to the Deputy National President of the association, Amb. Abubakar Muhammed Bishara hole speaking with journalists over the weekend explained that the unfortunate incident was a product of disagreement between members of the two chapels over the fact that the National President of the Road Transport Employers’ Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) doubles as the chairman of the Lagos state branch of the association.

He expressed disappointment over the decision of the governor to shut down the activities 9f the union without reference to the national body of the association.

“To put the matter in its proper perspective, the Road Transport Employers’ Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) is a trade union registered under the Trade Unions Act. Cap T 14 Laws of the Federation 2004, a Federal Enactment.

“The association also has its constitution which is recognized and approved by the Registrar of Trade Unions under the Ministry of Labour and Employment. The operations of Trade Unions are entirely under the Trade Unions Act and the approved constitutions of the Trade Unions.

“None of the provisions of the Trade Unions Act confers or gives any power to any state Governor to suspend the activities of any Trade Union nor empowers the Governor of Lagos state or any other state to appoint a caretaker committee for a Trade Union as a branch of it. The action of the Governor is therefore ultra-vires and unconstitutional.

“We wish to further inform the members of the press that the constitution of RTEAN, which has been tested before the National Industrial Court, has made elaborate provision for chairmen of branches of the Association to contest elections in the National body either as president or any other office and if elected, could also hold the two positions without hindrance by any law as the provision of the constitution of the association.

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“Therefore, the argument that the National President of RTEAN cannot hold the position of Lagos state branch chairman is without any foundation, rather it is provided for in the RTEAN constitution. Since the entire fracas was based on the issue covered by the RTEAN constitution one expects that aggrieved members should have been advised by the Governor to proceed to court to challenge the constitutional provision and not for the governor to delve into resolving constitutional issues embedded in the RTEAN constitution. it is not his responsibility. In any case, 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. It shows clearly that the Governor took sides with those contesting the issue of the president of RTEAN doubling as the chairman of the Lagos branch of RTEAN.

“Furthermore, Lagos state has over 320 chapels. The fracas is alleged to have taken place in two of those chapels. The responsibility of the state Government is the maintenance of law and order, and this can be done by directing the police to arrest the miscreants who were involved in the fracas in the two chapels of the union.

“We, therefore, appeal to the Governor of Lagos state to rescind his decision to suspend the activities of Lagos Branch and allow the National body of the RTEAN to look into the matter in line with its constitution.

“We have observed that the Governor of Lagos state has gone a step further by drafting soldiers and other security agents to seal up the premises of the Lagos state branch of RTEAN when the fracas did not take place there. The said building is the property of the association and already the National Executive Council of the organization has taken steps to resolve the crisis. We equally appeal to the Government to withdraw the security personnel from the office. RTEAN is one of the most peaceful organizations among all the trade unions in the country and believes in the rule of law.

“We therefore humbly request the pleasure of the Lagos State Government to withdraw the security agents used in sealing off the property of the association”, the association demanded.

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