Court voids Oluomo’s parks and garages, revalidates RTEAN


Justice Maureen Esowe of the  National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) sitting in Lagos , yesterday, voided  Lagos State Parks and Garages and reinstated operations of the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) in the state.

The judge, who also nullified the state government’s appointment of a caretaker committee, held that the act of 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 the 1999 Constitution as amended.

RTEAN had instituted the suit marked: NICN/LA/381/2022, in October 2022, to challenge 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 suit 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 can not interfere in the affairs of a trade union registered under the Trade Unions Act of 2004. He added that the state can not dissolve the union, saying such matters are handled by the 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.

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.

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.

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 executives.The judge, who also dismissed the defendants’ preliminary objections to the suit, 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.

Reacting, Kupolati said he would study the judgment and advise 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.

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