Lagos Suspends NURTW over Murder of Leader of Commercial Motorcyclists

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Warns against escalation of violence in Oshodi

Gboyega Akinsanmi

The Lagos State Government yon Monday suspended seven branches of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) due to the violence that erupted after a leader of Motorcycle Operators’ Association of Lagos State (MOALS), Mr. Rasaq Bello, was murdered recently.

Consequently, the state government warned against escalation of violence in Oshodi, promising to prosecute every person who were involved in the gruesome murder of the Okada leader.

The Commissioner for Transportation, Mr. Olanrewaju Elegushi, disclosed this during a news conference he addressed in Alausa yesterday alongside Lagos State Chairman of NURTW, Mr. Tajudeen Agbede, among others.
Bello, a key leader of commercial motorcycle operators in the state, was murdered in cold-blood during the inclusive councillorship primary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Oshodi about a fortnight ago.

His death sparked reprisal between two factions of MOALS in Oshodi, thereby culminating in vicious cycles of group violence that claimed at least two lives and victims who sustained varying degrees of injury.
At the conference yesterday, Elegushi said the state government had suspended the activities of the NURTW in seven branches in Oshodi indefinitely, listing the branches to include LOB A, LOB D, LOB J, Oshodi A, Oshodi B, Oshodi C and Oshodi D.

Until peace is restored to the area, the commissioner noted that there would be no collection of tickets/fees from commuter buses operating under the affected branches in Oshodi.
He said throughout the duration of the suspension order, a team of state government officials and security personnel would be mandated to oversee and monitor the transport operations within the affected branches to ensure they do not collect any ticket or fees from transport operators.

He explained that the suspension order was taken after due consultation with all the relevant stakeholders concerning the crisis and that it would remain in force until peace and tranquility returned to the area.

For the avoidance of doubt, he said police investigation “is ongoing on the said death and all persons found culpable will be prosecuted in line with the dictates of the laws. It is important to also emphasise that all rumour mongering, insinuations and unverified facts should be avoided for the sake of peaceful co-existence.”

Elegushi warned against escalation of violence, noting that any escalation of the crisis arising from the ban would compel the state government into taking sterner actions against the branches where violence is recorded.

As part of the strategies to address incessant crisis arising from activities of transport unions, he said the state government had initiated Bus Reform Initiative (BRI) through which 5,000 air-conditioned and convenient buses would be injected into the transport sector, adding that the initiative would soon be launched.

Also at the conference, Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Operations, Mr. Imohimi Edgal confirmed that some arrests have been made following the crisis and that investigation had started in respect of the violence.

He said anyone found culpable in the crisis would be prosecuted in accordance with the law, and that the state government, in partnership with the police and other relevant stakeholders were working towards a lasting peace.

The police chief disclosed that the report of the preliminary investigation by the police would be out before the end of the week.

Agbede said the branch was in support of the decision of government to suspend all union activities in Oshodi indefinitely, noting that the union was adequately consulted before the action was taken.
He said the decision of the state government “to suspend union activities in Oshodi was supported by us. We also want a lasting peace in Oshodi and we know that with this decision, people can go about their duties without hindrance.

“I am sure if the union had handled the issue of Oshodi, we would have arrived at the same decision to suspend activities for now and I want to urge our members to cooperate with government in its bid to ensure lasting peace.”