The Lagos State Government has strongly condemned the planned protest by members of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) scheduled for September 25, 2023.
The protest is in response to the state government’s ban on the operations of the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN), Lagos Chapter. The government has described the planned protest as a breach of the law if carried out.
In a statement released on Monday, Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, expressed the government’s concern over the proposed protest and emphasized the need for dialogue to resolve the ongoing dispute. Omotoso noted that the protest appeared to be an attempt to arm-twist and intimidate the government, despite ongoing efforts to reach an amicable resolution.
Commissioner Omotoso also emphasized that the planned protest by TUC was premature and could potentially disrupt the legal process. He urged TUC and RTEAN to embrace dialogue as a means to resolve the ongoing dispute, emphasizing that peaceful negotiations were in the best interest of the state’s economic and social well-being
The statement reads: “The Lagos State Government has noted the plan by the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to protest the September 2022, suspension of the activities of the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN), Lagos Chapter, in motor parks and garages in Lagos State due to violence and internal strife.
“A 35-man Ad-hoc Caretaker Committee was constituted by the State Government to manage the State’s Parks and Garages under the control of RTEAN pending resolution of the internal dispute and to stop immediately the violence in some parts of the State – in line with the recommendations of the 2004 White Paper on Transport Union Matters in the State.
“Now, the TUC has scheduled a protest for September 25 to force a return of RTEAN to the parks, following a verdict of the National Industrial Court (NIC). Meanwhile, the State Government has filed an appeal against this judgment and has a pending application for a stay of execution of the said judgment.
“Therefore, the protest will be in breach of the Rule of Law, which expects both parties to maintain the status quo, pending determination of the application for stay of execution and appeal.
“The planned protest is of no need and meant to arm-twist and intimidate the government, considering all the efforts being made to resolve the matter amicably. TUC/RTEAN should embrace dialogue. It is better and safer for our economic and social well-being.”
The dispute between the Lagos State Government and RTEAN began in September 2022 when Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu ordered the suspension of the transport association’s activities in the state. The governor cited rampant violence in various parts of Lagos State as a primary reason for the suspension.
In April 2023, the National Industrial Court (NIC) issued a verdict ordering the reinstatement of RTEAN’s operations, stating that the suspension of the union’s activities was illegal. The court also restrained the state government from interfering with the union’s executive functions.
However, in response to the court’s decision, the Lagos State Government filed an appeal and applied for a stay of execution of the judgment, seeking to maintain the status quo until the appeal process was concluded.
This move was by the Rule of Law, which expects both parties to maintain the status quo during pending appeals and applications for a stay of execution.
The Lagos State Government remains committed to finding a lasting solution to the RTEAN dispute. As the planned protest date approaches, tensions continue to rise, and all eyes are on the government’s response to the anticipated demonstration.