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HomeMetro NewsIndustrial court sacks MC Oluomo's headed Garage caretaker committee, orders reinstatement of...

Industrial court sacks MC Oluomo’s headed Garage caretaker committee, orders reinstatement of RTEAN

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The National Industrial Court (NIC) on Tuesday in Lagos voided the establishment of the Garage Caretaker Committee, created by the Lagos government and ordered the immediate reinstatement of the operations of the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) in the state.

RTEAN in October 2022 instituted a suit marked NICN/LA/381/2022, challenging the Lagos State government for dissolving its elected executive committee in the state and appointing a caretaker body tagged “Parks and Garages Administrators.”

RETEAN listed Governor Sanwo-Olu, the Attorney-General of the state, and Sola Giwa, the Special Adviser on Transportation to Sanwo-Olu, as respondents in the suit.

Also included as defendants are the Lagos State Commissioner of Police and all the appointed members of the caretaker committee.

It was gathered that in January 2023, RTEAN, through its counsel, Elisha Kurah (SAN), told the court that a state cannot interfere in the affairs of a trade union registered under the Trade Unions Act of 2004.

Kurah added that the state cannot dissolve the union, noting that such matters are handled by the Federal Ministry of Labor and Employment.

He told the court that the state government “dissolved RTEAN, suspended its operations, and took over the garages.”

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

But the counsel for the state government, Adebayo Haroun, contended that the government did not violate the law or dissolve the national body’s operations in the state.

According to him, the government only sought to maintain law and order by creating the ad hoc committee when violence ensued between the unions.

Also, the counsel for the 5th to 37th defendants, Taiwo Kupolati (SAN), argued that Governor Sanwo-Olu has the power to maintain peace in the land.

Kupolati said, “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.”

Kurah and Kupolati also filed notices of preliminary objections and urged the court to dismiss RTEAN’s suit brought by way of originating summons in view of the “conflicting facts” deposed to by the parties.

Meanwhile, it was learned that there was no appearance nor filing of court papers by the Nigeria Police Force in Lagos, who are the fourth defendant.

Justice Maureen Esowe, in her judgment on Tuesday, held that the act of the Lagos State government in suspending the national union’s operations in the state and setting up a caretaker committee is illegal and unconstitutional.

Justice Esowe held that the government and the police should have intervened by arresting and prosecuting those behind the crisis.

The judge, therefore, restrained the state government from further interfering with the operations of the union’s executive council.

Justice Esowe ordered the police to stop intimidating the union’s officers, remove all barricades they imposed around their secretariat, and grant them unfettered access to their offices.

Also, Justice Esowe dismissed the defendants’ preliminary objections to the suit, insisting that the matter is straightforward with no serious dispute to warrant an exchange of pleadings.

Reacting to the judgment, the counsel for the state government and the Parks and Garages Administrators, Kupolati, said he would study the judgment and advise his clients accordingly.

(omayowa@globalfinancialdigest.com; Newsroom: +234 8033 964 138)

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