A Federal High Court in Lagos has stopped the former chairman of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Lagos branch, Alhaji Musilu Akinsanya, (a.k.a. MC Oluomo), and other transport unions from collecting union dues and levies from commercial drivers that are non-union members in all motor parks in Lagos State.
The unions are the Registered Trustees of the NURTW, Registered Trustees of the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) and the registered Trustees of the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO).
The judge, Justice Peter Lifu, gave the ruling in support of a suit filed by a lawyer, Mr. Olukoya Ogungbeje, who sued on behalf of himself and a new transport union, the Transport Union Society of Nigeria (TUSON).
Also listed as respondents in the suit are the NARTO president, Alhaji Lawal Yusuf Othman; the Lagos State Government; the Attorney-General of Lagos State; the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) and the Director of State Security Service (SSS).
Ogungbeje had also asked for a restraining order stopping the Lagos State Government from enforcing an N800.00 transport union levy on transporters and commercial vehicles in the state pending the hearing and determination of the substantive originating motion filed before the court.
Ogungbeje had in March 2022 filed the suit pursuant to sections 33, 36, 40, and 46 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Order 4, Rules 3, 4(4)(5) and 11 of the fundamental rights enforcement procedure rules, 2009.
The lawyer had asked the court for an order restraining the respondents jointly and severally, whether, by themselves, their agents, officials, servants privies, officers, and/or whosoever called from forceful imposition, collection, extortion and further forceful imposition of levies from the non-union members.
The national body of the NURTW in Abuja, headed by Tajudeen Agbede, had initially suspended the Lagos NURTW controlled by Oluomo over alleged acts of insubordination and abuse of office on March 9, 2022
But the Lagos State government waded into the affair and banned NURTW activities in the state. The government then constituted a Parks Management Committee and appointed Oluomo as its head on April 7, 2022.
An ex-Permanent Secretary, Taiwo Salaam, was appointed the secretary of the committee, while Sulyman Ojora was appointed the deputy chairman.
Also, a former Assistant Inspector General of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, was appointed the Liaison Officer between the government and the committee.
The state government said the appointments were a fulfilment of its promise to ensure that events in the Lagos NURTW were not allowed to threaten law and order.
The government had before then introduced a state levy of N800 per commercial bus effective February 1, 2022, as it warned drivers to stop giving levies to hoodlums or thugs.
“We have suspended national union activities but we have not suspended the tickets of the government. That one is still in force,” the Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation, Toyin Fayinka, told The ICIR in an interview.
However, the government ban on the collection has never worked for one day as NURTW enforcers have remained on the roads, harassing commercial bus drivers and commercial tricycle and motorcycle riders, from whom they forcefully collect levies.
The Lagos NURTW enforcers can always be seen subjecting commercial drivers and riders who tarry in paying the levies to beatings, and their vehicles, sometimes, damaged.
The drivers and riders are waiting to see whether the court judgment would be effected, or it would be just another mere paper order like that issued by the Lagos State government banning the Lagos NURTW enforcers from collecting levies.