By Bello Hamza, Abuja
The Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN), has charged its members operating in Lagos state not to comply with the directive of the so call illegal caretake committee appointed by the Lagos state government.
It would recall that sometime in the month of October, 2022, the Lagos State Government, dissolved the Elected Executive Committee of Lagos State Branch of RTEAN and in its place, purportedly appointed a Care-taker Committee to run its affairs.
In a statement signed by the deputy national president, admin and national general secretary, Amb Abubakar Muhammad Bishara and Comrade Yusuf Adeniyi said that the attention of the union has been drawn to the illegal activities of the purported Care-taker Committee set up by the Lagos State Government to run the affairs of RTEAN, Lagos State Branch.
The stated that RTEAN as a law abiding institution being aggrieved, instituted a suit (Suit No. NICN/LA/381/2022) before the National Industrial Court, Lagos challenging the illegal or unlawful action of the Lagos State Government in dissolving the Elected Executive Committee of RTEAN and purportedly appointing a Care-taker Committee to run its affairs when it is a fact that a State Government does not have the power to interfere in the affairs of a Trade Union registered under the Trade Unions Act, a Federal Law.
They noted that both the Lagos State Government and the members of the Care-taker Committee are Defendants in the Suit. The court processes were served on all the Defendants in the suit and the Lagos State Government had even filed its Counter-Affidavit and Written Address in a purported defence of its action.
“Despite the pendency of the suit and a Motion seeking to restrain the Defendants including Members of the Care-taker Committee from continuing to interfere with the affairs of the Claimant (RTEAN), the Members of the Care-taker Committee on the 8th of November, 2022 held a meeting wherein they directed that all the over 320 Chapels of RTEAN and over 50 Zones of RTEAN operating in Lagos State should pay the sum of N400,000.00 and N5m respectively to the Care-taker Committee on or before Monday, the 14th of November, 2022.
“It should be noted that the Lagos State Government not only purported to dissolve the Elected Executive Committee of the Lagos State Branch of RTEAN, but also purported to suspend the operations of RTEAN in Lagos State and yet, the Chapels and Zones of RTEAN are being taxed illegally to cough out such colossal amounts of money, ostensibly, for the benefit of the Care-taker Committee and the Lagos State Government as same would not be paid into the coffers of RTEAN for its operations.
“The Lagos State Government has also replaced all the tickets of RTEAN in their parks and has printed new ones in various categories ranging from N1,000 to N200 in the name of “Lagos State Park Administration” and the “Lagos State Care-taker Committee” and are using the so called Care-taker Committee to forcefully sell the said tickets to members of RTEAN in Lagos State.
“It can be seen therefore, from the unlawful directive given by the Care-taker Committee as well as the forceful sale of tickets to members of RTEAN, that the purported dissolution of the Elected Executive Committee of RTEAN Lagos State Branch and the appointment of the so called Care-taker Committee was just a smoke screen to be used to extort money from members, Chapels and Zones of RTEAN in Lagos State.
“We are therefore calling on all Chapels and Zones of RTEAN operating in Lagos State not to comply with the unlawful and/or illegal directive of the so called Care-taker Committee as they do not have the powers to issue the said directive especially when the National Industrial Court had ordered the maintenance of the status quo ante bellum,” the statement read.
It should also be noted that the suit came up on the 7th November, 2022 before the National Industrial Court sitting in Lagos and the Honourable Court ordered all the parties to maintain the status quo ante bellum pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice and the substantive Suit which was adjourned to the 23rd of November, 2022 for hearing.
They further stated that the action of the Care-taker Committee is a clear disrespect to the said Court Order made by the National Industrial Court as same is in contempt of the aforesaid Order made by the Court. Saying the precipitate action in the form of the directive to pay the amount stated above by the so called Care-taker Committee being in contempt of the valid Order made by the Court, will at the appropriate time be challenged in Court as no one is above the law.