Court Revalidate Transport Unions in Lagos State, Declares Park Management Illegal Body

The National Industrial Court of Nigeria sitting in Lagos has ordered the reinstatement of the operations of the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) in lagos State, nullifying the state government’s appointment of a caretaker committee.

RTEAN instituted the suit with ID number: NICN/LA/381/2022, in October 2022 to challenge the Lagos State government for allegedly dissolving the elected executive committee of the union in the state and appointing a caretaker body, known as the Parks and Garages Administrators.

The defendants in the case are the Governor, the Attorney-General of the state, and Sola Giwa, who is the Special Adviser to the state governor on transportation.

The 4th-37th defendants are the Commissioner of police, Lagos State, and all the members of the caretaker committee.

in January, the union through their counsel, Elisha Kurah (SAN) had argued that a state cannot interfere in the affairs of a trade union registered under the Trade Unions Act of 2004.

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He added that the state cannot dissolve the union, saying such matters are handled by Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.

“The government dissolved RTEAN, suspended its operations and took over the garages.

“The union is challenging Lagos State since union matters are under the federal ministry,” he said.

But, counsel for the state government, Adebayo Haroun had contended that the government did not violate the law nor dissolve the national body’s operations in the state, but had sought to maintain law and order by creating the ad-hoc committee when violence ensued between the unions.

The counsel for the 5th to the 37th defendants, Taiwo Kupolati (SAN), in his arguments, said Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has the power to maintain peace in the land.

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“There was a crisis and the governor exercised his authority as the Chief Security Officer of the state and put up a committee to be in charge of garages for peace to reign.

“The government issued a document to ensure public safety and order. And since the ad-hoc committee was set up, there has been peace,”

Both counsel also filed notices of preliminary objections, urging the court to dismiss the suit brought by way of originating summons, in view of the conflicting facts deposed to by the parties.

There was no appearance nor filing of court processes by the NPF, Lagos, who are the fourth defendants.

In her judgment, Justice Maureen Esowe, held that the act of the Lagos State government in suspending the national unions operations in the state and setting up a caretaker committee is illegal and against the provisions of Sections 4 (1), (2)& (3), and 5 (1) &(3), read along with item 34 of the exclusive legislative list, of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.

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She held that the government and the Police should have intervened by arresting and prosecuting those behind the fracas and not to inquire into the dispute.

The court also restrained the state government from further interfering with the operations of the union’s exco.

The court ordered the police to refrain from intimidating the union’ s officers and to remove all barricades it imposed around their secretariat and to grant them unfettered Access to their offices.

The judge also dismissed the defendants’ preliminary objections to the suit. saying the matter is straight forward which the Court has jurisdiction to hear and determine, with no serious dispute to warrant an exchange of pleadings.

Reacting to the judgment, Mr kupolati Said he would study the judgment and advice his clients accordingly,

while the state counsel, Adekunle Laditan, told the court that the state, being a law abiding government, would also study the decision.

Wahab Akinlade

Akinlade I. WAHAB is a dedicated journalist and the proprietor of I-WAHAB Media. He embarked on his career at Murhi International TV (MiTV) and subsequently joined Radio Nigeria as a Judicial Correspondent.With a profound interest in legal reporting, he currently holds the positions of Chairman at the National Association of Judicial Correspondents (NAJUC), Ikeja Branch, and Chairman at the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Radio Nigeria Chapel.As the owner of I-WAHAB Media, he has successfully established Top Court News, a platform renowned for providing comprehensive coverage of court cases and legal developments, with the aim of promoting transparency within the judicial system.Akinlade's diligent work and unwavering commitment to ethical reporting have earned him immense respect within the Nigerian journalism community.

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