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The national leadership of the National Union of Road Transport Workers [NURTW] has appealed to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to restrain the Lagos branch of the union from forcefully taking over the national secretariat or removing the national officers of the union in violation of laid down constitutional rules which established the union.
The appeal came on the heels of the invasion and vandalization of the national secretariat of the NURTW by thugs allegedly led by agents of a popular Lagos-based unionist known as Alhaji Musiliu Akinsanya (MC Oluomo) who is also feared within political circles.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday, during which some of the injured workers from the national secretariat were shown to newsmen, the National President of the union,, Alhaji, Prof. Ibikunle Tajudeen Baruwa, said the unfortunate incident happened in the early hours of Monday August 28th at about 7:00am when a group of people, who claimed to be Park Management Committee members from Lagos, Ogun and Osun states mobilized thugs in large numbers and attacked the National Secretariat located at Garki 2, Abuja.
Prof. Tajudeen Baruwa alleged that the hoodlums armed with machetes and other dangerous weapons inflicted several degrees of injuries on members while the police and operatives of Department of State Services (DSS) that took over the secretariat at the height of the leadership crises rocking the union, looked the other way without intervening.
The Federal Capital Territory wing of the NURTW had earlier held a solidarity briefing expressing support for the national leadership stating that the invasion of the secretariat was an attempt to dethrone a democratically elected executive and should be condemned by the Federal Government the way the Niger coup was resisted.
According to the NURTW leaders, “There is need to stop the illegality that is going on in our union which is being influenced by some top government officials using security agents to back these disgruntled elements who have renounced their membership from the Union.
“It is imperative to clarify and put the record straight. The Constitution of our Union as amended in 2018 provides for a four year tenure for all the elected officers at all organs of the Union subject to re-election for another tenure of four years.
“It also made provision for the election of 18 National Administrative Council (NAC) Officers which shall be equally zoned among the six zonal councils of the Union for the purpose of fair-play and justice.
“Furthermore, the Union’s Constitution also provides in Article 9 section 14, 15 and 16 respectively for holding of Special Zonal Delegates Conference for the nomination and election of the National Officers of the Union otherwise known as the National Administrative Council (NAC), members three months before the National Delegates Conference which normally holds once in four years in the month of August as enshrined in the Constitution of the Union.
“It’s important to further intimate you that the last Special Zonal Delegates Conference of the Union was concurrently held on the 15th of May, 2019 while the National Delegates Conference of the Union took place on the 29th August 2019 in conformity with the Constitution of the Union respectively where the current National Officers otherwise known as National Administrative Council (NAC) members were nominated and elected and subsequently sworn in at NAF Conference Center, Abuja.
“The present administration under the leadership of Alhaji Prof. Ibikunle Tajudeen Baruwa clocked four years in office this August 23rd 2023. The Special Zonal Delegates Conference was held on the 24th May, 2023 in all the six Zonal Councils of the Union where three NAC members per Zone were nominated and elected to represent their respective Zones at the National level and were sworn in during the 10th Quadrennial National Delegates Conference held at TA’AL Conference Hotel Lafia Nasarawa State on Wednesday August 23, 2023.
“Before the inauguration of the National Administrative Council ( NAC ) members in Lafia Nasarawa State the National Delegates Conference of the Union was fixed for 12th August, 2023 at Hall C, T.Y Buratai Block Nigeria Army Resource Center, Abuja, where one of the major agenda was to formally swear in the newly elected NAC members who emerged during the May, 24th, 2023 Special Zonal Delegates Conference of the Union that took place simultaneously at the six Zonal Councils of the Union.”
Continuing, the FCT chairman said “It is important to state here that the aggrieved members deliberately refused to attend the Kano meeting where the Special Zonal Delegates Conference was approved by the National Executive Council ( NEC ).However, we were taken aback on the eve of the National Delegates Conference being Friday the 11th August, 2023, at about 4pm to 5pm.
“The President of the Union Prof, Ibikunle Tajudeen Baruwa was invited by the Police and he went to the Police Headquarters, Abuja, accompanied by the Acting General Secretary Comr. A.C. Asogwa JP, Comr. Olaye Odion National Trustee and the Principal Asst. Secretary Comr. Jibrin Abdulrazaq Yemi where they
were detained till the 12th August 2023, for undisclosed offence(s) and
released at about 1: 00pm with directives to report back the same day where they were again detained and finally released at about midnight .
“As if that was not enough, on Saturday the 12th August, 2023, over seven Hilux vehicles full of armed policemen stormed the National Secretariat of the Union and sealed it off as well as chased
away all the delegates and staff of the Union claiming that they were acting on orders from above based on the alleged petition writing against them even as
some members of the Union from Lagos State led by Alh. Tajudeen Agbede Badru and former President of the Union, Alhaji Najeem Usman Yasin led a group of
thugs with the support of Lagos State Chairman of Parks and Management, Alhaji Musiliu Akinsanya (MC Oluomo) attacked the National Secretariat and injured many of our staff in the presence of security operatives deployed to prevent breakdown of law and order.”
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) which waded into the NURTW dispute has given the INspe tor General of Police (IGP) a 24 hour ultimatum to withdraw the Police and Operatives of Department of State Services (DSS) and Nigerian Army who were deployed to provide cover for the intruders who allegedly operated freely for several hours despite the presence of the security personnel.
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