Court reinstates RTEAN in Lagos

On Tuesday, the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) held a session in Lagos and ordered for the resumption of activities of the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) in Lagos State.

Justice Maureen Esowe voided the Lagos State Parks Administrator Caretaker Committee.

The judge ruled that the suspension of the national union’s operations by the state government and the establishment of a caretaker committee in October of last year was against the law and unconstitutional. The judge believed that the government and the police should have taken action against those responsible for any disputes allegedly involving union members, rather than investigating the issue. The court also prohibited the state government from interfering in the activities of the union’s executive committee.

The court instructed the police to avoid harassing the union’s leaders, take down any barricades they had set up around their headquarters, and allow them unrestricted entry to their offices. Justice Esowe rejected the defendants’ initial arguments against the case, stating that it was a clear-cut matter that did not require a back-and-forth exchange of legal documents.

In October 2022, RTEAN filed a lawsuit with the case number NICN/LA/381/2022 against the Lagos State government. They claimed that the government dissolved the elected executive committee of the union in the state and appointed a caretaker body without due process. The defendants in the case include the Governor, the Attorney-General of the state, and other officials.

In January, the union argued that the state had no right to interfere in the affairs of a trade union registered under the Trade Unions Act of 2004, and only the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment had the authority to handle such matters. However, the state government’s counsel contended that they had created the ad-hoc committee to maintain law and order during violent clashes between unions and had not violated any laws.

The counsel for the 5th to the 37th defendants argued that the Governor had the power to maintain peace in the state and that the creation of the ad-hoc committee was within his authority as the Chief Security Officer.

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