Metro & Crime

Lagos: Commuters fret over persistent clashes, stray bullets at motor parks

F ollowing persistent clashes across Lagos State between members of the Park Management Committee and Tricycle Owners and Operators Association of Nigeria (TOOAN), residents have started raising concerns over the state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s decision to appoint Musiliu Akinsaya popularly called MC Oluomo, to take over the management of parks after the suspension of National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) across the state.

The concern expressed by the residents were that the peace they expected after MC Oluomo’s appointment had not been forthcoming, rather unrest have continued unabated, forcing passengers to panic whenever they visit parks to patronise commercial transport operators, particularly at those sections being used by the tricycle operators, as it had become the battle ground for fight between members of the park management and TOOAN members.

As gathered, the face-off between both parties had been that the park committee members insist that they have to take over as well as control operations of tricycle, a move that had been resisted by the TOOAN members, claiming that they were not under NURTW and cannot be managed by the MC Oluomo park boys. Areas mostly hit by the crisis are Ekoro road, Elepo, Fagba, Ijaiye, Abule -Egba, Idumota, Adenji Adele and other parts of Lagos Island control by Kunle Poly.

If the crisis is not managed properly by the government it may go out of proportion, because both sides are tense. MC Oluomo’s sack It would be recalled that in a letter, dated March 9, 2022, the NURTW suspended MC Oluomo after it became obvious that he was not apologetic over his actions even after he was directed to explain reasons for embarking on protest against the national leadership.

The national body, in a letter signed by its General Secretary, Kabiru Yau, read in part: “This is to convey to you that in line with Article 42 section 5, subsection I, II, III, IV, V, and VIII of the union’s constitution, you have been placed on indefinite suspension from office as State Chairman of Lagos State Council of National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), with effect from March 9, 2021.

“Your suspension is sequel to sustained acts of insubordination and gross misconduct coupled with your clandestine plans to instigate crisis and unleash mayhem on any branch or branches of the union in Lagos State that refuses to obey your order or instructions not to accept directives from the national headquarters of the Union.

“Your orchestrated plan to attack branches that may disobey your orders aforesaid will ultimately endanger public peace and order in Lagos State. It was also very likely to threaten and/or affect the lives and property of the peace-loving people of Lagos State, particularly those doing their legitimate businesses within motor parks, hence the urgent need to take drastic actions against him.

“In view of your suspension, you are hereby directed to hand over the mantle of leadership of the Lagos State Council to the State Deputy Chairman and also surrender all Union properties in your possession to the State Secretary of the Union forthwith.” The genesis of the crisis between the former state chairman of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, Musiliu Akinsanya alias MC Oluomo and Alhaji Azeez Abiola alias Istijabah was said to have started on Thursday, February 10, 2022, at an emergency meeting of the NURTW officials summoned by the State Chairman, Musiliu Akinsanya (MC Oluomo) to discuss the latest development in the Union with the appointment of Azeez Abiola (Istijabah) as the state chairman of TOOAN by the National President, Alhaji Tajudeen Baruwa.

It was narrated that the crisis started when Istijabah and his executive were entering the premises of NURTW office, some loyalists of MC Oluomo allegedly attacked them, adding that those attacked were left in the pool of their blood before they were later arrested by the RRS. At least, five persons were reported to have sustained injuries in the clash between the two rival unions at Agege area. One of the members of TOOAN, who spoke with our correspondent, said that one Kazeem Akinbode (Womi), who was standing behind Istijabah was hit with plank on his left eye while others were stabbed with bottles and jack knives.

He said that they did not expect that they would be attacked because they were called for a meeting on what transpired in Abuja on the fateful day. He added that three of the NURTW officials pounced on Istijabah, but that they could not overpower him. The peace envisaged by the state government which made them to suspend NURTW activities in the state has not been achieved as the crisis is much around, as NURTW is not ready to relinquish their garages for the park management committee which had led to civil unrest in major parts of the state, while MC Oluomo and his boys are bent on taking over the whole parks to their side.

MC Oluomo directed NURTW members to continue ticket sales Meanwhile, despite the suspension of Mc Oluomo, he directed the union members to return to motor parks across Lagos, and continue the sale of tickets to commercial motorists. Oluomo’s directives came despite the announcement from the Lagos State government suspending the NURTW’s operation in the state. MC Oluomo indicated that the members were permitted to go about their day-to-day activities at parks and garages as road transport workers under his leadership, just as he allegedly assured them that he would take care of police in case of any trouble.

“This is to formally inform all NURTW chairmen and entire members of the union to operate your day to day union activities at the various motor parks and garages accordingly and disregard any patrol policemen parading themselves in other to disrupt your union operations.” On Friday, April 22 there was palpable tension at Ile Epo, Ekoro and Agbelekale Road in Alimosho Local Government Area, the two unions engaged each other in a free for all over control of the motor park in the area. While on Saturday, April 23, the park committee boys were said to have stormed a motor park in Mairan, Iyana Odo in Abule Egba axis shooting sporadically and armed area boys were also loitering around the tricycle park. And a number of people sustained injuries and tricycles were vandalised. New Telegraph learnt that the clash, which was between suspected loyalists of MC Oluomo and those of Alhaji Azeez Abiola alias Istijabah left many people injured in the fracas. A driver, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he was in Oju Ore area of Ogun State when one of their members called him that they were shooting in Meiran and Ekoro area. “That my friend told me not to come to that area as Istijabah boys are fighting with those who want to take control of the tricycle garage and they resisted them.

“Since the creation of park management committee, we have been living in fear, the boys loyal to MC Oluomo always threaten us that they are coming anytime and we are also alert. We were in our park when they appeared suddenly and asked us to leave the park for them that they are now in charge. “Their aim was to dislodge us and install a new Chairman, we stood our ground and confronted them and in the process some of us sustained injuries and they also went away with injuries. The cause of this problem is from the Lagos State government. We are ready for them anytime they come, we are always combat ready, this fight is a fight to finish. I believe we are going to overcome them.” A resident of Iju, who simply identified himself as Olawale, said the Lagos State Government should act fast over the incessant clashes between NURTW and Mc Oluomo boys in the state.

He said: “I am praying that a passenger is not caught in the cross fire between the two rival unions in the state, because you never can tell when the hoodlums would storm motor parks to cause their trouble. “Those of us who work around motor parks in Iju are not safe, there is no presence of police and other security agencies in our own area to prevent breakdown of law and order. There are women and children who make their living in the parks, with crisis everyday those people mentioned are not safe. I want peace in Lagos and the only way we can guarantee that peace is the state government to act fast and find lasting solution to lingering crisis between rival unionists.

” Reacting to the crisis, the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, CP Abiodun Alabi said that they have beefed up security at all Lagos motor parks. He said: “I have given directives to all Area Commanders and Divisional Police Officers to beef up security and maintain visibility in their area of coverage and deployment, and patrol of all motor parks across the state.” He assured residents of adequate security of life and property, urging them not to express panic or fear.

 

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