The National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) on Wednesday, 9th March 2022, suspended its Lagos chapter’s Chairman, Musiliu Akinsanya, popularly called Mc Oluomo, indefinitely over alleged misconduct, insubordination, and inciting members of the state chapter against the apex body.
The development follows a query sent to the NURTW boss in Lagos over alleged meddlesomeness in Union matters, as well as protest staged by Mc Oluomo supporters during which they accused the union at national level of unnecessarily interfering in the state affairs.
It was gathered that the national body of the union had therefore, 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.
According to the national body, the decision to suspend MC Oluomo, as contained in a letter sent to him, aimed at preventing possible breakdown of law and order after it came to its notice that he was already inciting members against the national body and the union, “an act that is completely against NURTW constitution,” the national body maintained.
The letter, dated March 9, 2022, stated 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.
The national body, in a letter signed by its General Secretary, Kabiru Yau, read in part: “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, 2021.
“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.”
Earlier, members of Lagos State chapter of NURTW appealed for the State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, intervention and to caution the union’s state chairman, Musiliu Akinsanya, popularly called Mc Oluomo, from causing chaos with his decision to run a parallel office with the National President, Alh. Tajudeen Baruwa.
The members alleged that the state chairman has started gathering members to his camp and had perfected his plans to announce a new union for the state as against the national body as well as declaring himself as boss of a personified new union.
They argued that the developments and others including allegedly stopping the purchase of tickets from the NURTW body and that he has mandated members to collect dues and remit directly to him; an action that could affect the Lagos Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).
According to them, we are appealing to the governor to quickly intervene and help caution him from embarking on all his plans across the state.
The members, particularly the branch chairmen, added that all they wanted in NURTW was peace and harmony that existed under the administration of Tajudeen Agbede, the former union chairman for the state chapter.
They alleged that they were forced to sign an undertaking declaring their support for him and whatever decision he made, they should abide by it as against the national body.
Some of the affected branches’ chairmen who claimed to have signed the undertaking on duress, lamented that someone needs to stop Mc Oluomo from always using innocent members against the union national leadership and members as well as people that he feels could be a threat to his reign in the state.
Speaking to newsmen on the sudden developments that had brought the state chapter against the government, the Ikeja branch chairman, Kunle Anifowoshe, on Monday, said that the directives from MC Oluomo came as a surprise to them and that they do not understand his motive behind the sudden actions.
Anifowoshe disclosed that the directives were announced during an emergency meeting that was conveyed by the chairman at the state secretariat in Agege, where they were made to sign an undertaking to be loyal and abide by MC Oluomo’s dictates.
The Ikeja Branch chairman, who declined to sign the documents and pledged his loyalty to the national body under the leadership of President, Tajudeen Baruwa, stressed that he could not have gone against the union’s rules and regulations, saying I had to back out from it.
He, meanwhile, appealed to the state governor to intervene and mandate the state NURTW chairman to jettison his plans and adhere to the rules and regulations guiding commercial transportation systems across the country, particularly Lagos state.
Another branch chairman, who spoke anonymously, after signing the document at the chairman’s office before his decoration as an ambassador of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), disclosed that they have been directed by MC Oluomo to embark on statewide demonstrations and disrupt activities across Lagos.
Corroborating the claim, another branch chairman from Lagos East Senatorial district revealed that he could not have declined to sign the documents considering the atmosphere at the union’s secretariat and how MC Oluomo had threatened them that should they refuse to join his camp.
The branch chairman, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, lamented that they were threatened by the chairman that they could lose their position and that he does not want to become an ex-chairman, adding this is the reason I signed it.
According to him, some members had lost their seats after MC Oluomo was sworn in as the chairman and many were yet to regain their position in the Union after their removal.
“So all we are asking for is the governor’s intervention and warn him to abandon all the plans he had because if he embark on it, the actions could affect the peace and harmony that had existed across Lagos”, he added.
On Tuesday, March 8th, the four Zonal Chairmen of the Tricycle Owners and Operators Association of Nigeria (TOOAN) in Lagos State pledged support for Alhaji Musiliu Akinsanya (a.k.a. MC Oluomo).
The chairmen and hundreds of their members stormed the NURTW Agege State secretariat to express their displeasure over the interference of the national body of the NURTW in TOOAN affairs.
They warned Zone ‘C’ Chairman of TOOAN, Alhaji Azeez Abiola (aka. Istijabah), to desist from parading himself as the overall chairman of TOOAN in the state.
Coordinator of the chairmen and Zone ‘A’ Chairman Alhaji Kamoli Bakare (aka Papi), said the zonal chairmen are unaware and never subscribed to the appointment of Abiola as their leader.
“TOOAN comprises five Zones – A, B, C, D and E, of which I’m the chairman of Zone ‘A’ as well as the coordinator of the zones. We are operating under the NURTW and we have confirmed that NURTW has not appointed Abiola as our chairman. So, we consider the letter he’s parading on social media as untrue,” he said.
According to him, five of them including Abiola were interviewed for the position of zonal chairmen and they were sworn-in on March 12, 2020 for a four-year term in office.
Chairman of Zone ‘D’ Comrade Taofeek Azeez urged the NURTW National President Alhaji Tajudeen Baruwa to revoke the letter given to Abiola if such exists.
“None of us receive a notice to that effect. The action is even unconstitutional because TOOAN is under Lagos State Council. Such action could destroy the we’re currently enjoy in the state,” he said.
According to him, Bakare was appointed by TOOAN chairmen after inauguration to be their coordinator and has not done anything to warrant his removal.
Chairman of Zone ‘E’ Comrade Olamilekan Mogaji Adejonwo, said the issues on ground could be resolved through the union constitution.
Adejonwo popularly called Gaji, said: “It wasn’t something hard, every association has a constitution and if followed, there won’t be crisis. TOOAN is not an affiliate of national body of NURTW. It is an affiliate of Lagos State Council of the union. I don’t think it is the president that approached him, I believe he’s the one that lobbied with the president.
“The president should consult the constitution before making decisions, though some things that are done outside the constitution, but this case is on a different note. When we visited Lagos State Commissioner of Police (CP), he agreed with us that the mistake was indeed from the president.”
Speaking on March 8th, MC Oluomo said he will never do anything to tarnish the image of the union nor bring the union to disrepute.
Alhaji Akinsanya stated this in his reply to a query sent to him by the National body on alleged insubordination.
In a letter Akinsanya stated that he faithfully complied with the laws guiding the union’s operations and vowed: “never to do anything that will tarnish the image of the union nor 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 has 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.
Akinsanya denied knowledge of intimidation or assault on Abiola or any of his supporters.
As a Trustee, Abiola, he said, has the right of entry to the state secretariat and has never been denied the right.
Akinsanya said: “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.
“The decision to rearrange the tricycle segment of our operations was reached by the state executive with the knowledge and approval of the union President (Alhaji Baruwa). The initial plan was a three-zone arrangement, but we accommodated the wishes of the President (Baruwa) for a five-zone arrangement and his nomination of two zonal chairmen. The action is neither illegal nor unconstitutional as it is within our constitutional rights as the elected leaders of the state council and it was done with the concurrence of the National President (Baruwa). It was never to create rivalry or disharmony, and until now, the peace that we have in Lagos State council was never experienced by previous administrations.”
On allegation of using thugs to forcefully take over branches of his perceived enemies, Akinsanya said nothing of such ever happened since he took over.
“One of the major achievements of this present executive under my leadership in Lagos State is the promotion of peace and prevention of forceful takeover of branches. If any of the Zonal Chairmen to whom the branches belong, however, bring the issue to our attention, same shall be investigated openly and the cause/reason determined,” he said.
But Pulls out of the National Body…
On Thursday, March 10, the Lagos State Council of the union with over 200 branches immediately withdrew its membership and operation from the National body of NURTW.
The state council in a release said the action was necessitated by the need for peace to reign in Lagos State. The release stated that the State Executive Council (SEC) members and the entire union rank and file members of the NURTW, the state’s council have protested to the Lagos State Government about the situation of the union.
The council’s members argued in the statement that as law abiding and responsible citizens, they have decided to explore all avenues for peace in the interest of all. They pledged not to support any action that could threaten the peace in the state. The union has written to the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Lagos State Ministry of Transportation (MOT) and other relevant agencies about its decision.
The release stated further:
“Being law abiding and responsible citizens, we have decided to explore all avenues for peace in the interest of all as we will not support any action that can threaten the peace that we cherish so much in Lagos State.
“Therefore, I, Comrade Musiliu Akinsanya Ayinde, on behalf of the State Administrative Council (SAC), State Executive Council (SEC) members and the entire Union Rank and File members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Lagos State Council with over 200 Branches and Zones hereby resolve to:
1. Immediately withdraw our membership and operation from the National body of NURTW for peace to reign in Lagos State and to 2. Write to Lagos State Governor, Lagos State Ministry of Transportation (MOT) and other relevant agencies about our decision
“It is important to state that our action is in line with section 40 of the constitution of the Federal
Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended, which provides the following:
a. 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 crises 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 where there is a crisis until such is resolved by the consultative committee.
“We hereby call on Lagos State Government to take over the running of the affairs of the Union with the constitution of a park management committee for motor garages and parks in the State, hereby ensuring peace and tranquility, pending the determination of the matter in the interest of the good people of Lagos State.”
Maybe ‘Oyo Breeze’: Lagos Government Shoots and Sits
In a swift reaction, the Lagos government suspended the activities of the National Union of Road Transport Workers Union (NURTW) in the state.
In a statement on Thursday night by Gbenga Omotoso, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, the government announced the suspension of the activities of NURTW in the state.
It said, “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.”
The state government have also debunked rumor that Babajide Sanwo-Olu appointed Musiliu Akinsanya, aka MC Oluomo, as the General Manager of the Lagos Transport Parks and Garages Committee.
Jubril Gawat, Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on New Media, in a post on Friday, debunked viral reports (not by GBETU), that the governor appointed Akinsanya, the suspended chairman of the National Union of Road Transport Workers Union in Lagos.
He wrote, “Kindly disregard post(s) claiming that Governor Sanwo-Olu has appointed suspended Chairman of NURTW, MC Oluomo as GM, Lagos Transport Parks and garages committee. There’s no such appointment.”
The police command in the state also beefed up security in readiness for any violence that may arise a fall-out from the crisis.
Commissioner of Police, Abiodun Alabi, has deployed policemen in various parts of the state, including motor parks, to forestall a possible breakdown of law and order.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, CSP Adekunle Ajisebutu, said the state police commissioner had intensified security in the state.
Ajisebutu said “I can confirm to you that the CP has given directives to all Area Commanders, Divisional Police Officers, and Patrol Commanders to ensure intensive patrol of every part of the state, including motor parks, to forestall a possible breakdown of law and order.
“It is a routine that we have the presence of policemen deployed in every nook and cranny of the state. But when envisaging any breakdown of law and order, we do additional deployment with a view to forestalling any breakdown of law and order and that is what we have done in this instance.”
Moreso, Lagos House of Assembly says there should be no contention over the steps taken by the government regarding the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) crisis.
Temitope Adewale, Chairman, House Committee on Transportation made the position of the legislature known on Friday, 11th.
He said the legislative arm has been proactive and already created the Lagos State Parking Authority, which would now oversee activities at all parks.
Adewale noted that the House was aware of developments in the transportation union and the suspension of NURTW activities in Lagos.
“It is clear to state that all parks, garages and parking activities would be under the Lagos State Parking Authority as stipulated by law.”
“The Authority has a General Manager on whose shoulders the responsibility now falls to manage the parks at the moment.”
The chairman advised Lagosians to be calm, adding that the government was exploiting necessary actions.
The House assured that the authorities were resolute to avoid a breakdown of law and order in the state.