Following the violence that led to the death of a leader of Motorcycle Operators’ Association of Lagos State (MOALS) in Oshodi, Alhaji Rasaq Bello popularly known as Hamburger, the State Government, on Monday, suspended activities of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in all the seven branches in the area indefinitely.
The affected branches are LOB A, LOB D, LOB J, Oshodi A, Oshodi B, Oshodi C and Oshodi D.
The State Government, in a news conference jointly addressed by officials of the state, the police and NURTW at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre in Alausa, said while the suspension order lasts, there would be no collection of tickets/fees from commuter buses operating in the area.
Addressing the briefing, the State’s Acting Commissioner for Transportation, Prince Olanrewaju Elegushi 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 said 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, adding that the lifting of the ban would only be based on appropriate security reports.
He said: “For the avoidance of doubt, police investigations are 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 emphasis that all rumour mongering, insinuations and unfounded/unverified facts should be avoided in the sake of peaceful co-existence.
“Any escalation of the crisis arising from the ban will lead to Government taking sterner actions against the branches where violence is recorded,” Elegushi threatened.
He said as part of the strategies to permanently address incessant crisis arising from activities of transport unions in the State, the State Government has already put in place the 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 speaking, Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Operations in the State, Mr Imohimi Edgal, confirmed that some arrests have been made, following the crisis and that investigation had started in respect of the violence.
He assured that 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.
Edgal added that the report of the preliminary investigation by the police would be out before the end of the week.
On his part, Lagos State Chairman of NURTW, Alhaji Tajudeen Agbede, said the branch was in support of the decision of government to suspend all union activities in Oshodi indefinitely, saying that the union was adequately consulted before the action was taken.
“I like to confirm that 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 let or 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.
“Going forward, we have been educating our members on the need to eschew violence and we still want to reiterate it that anyone caught perpetrating violence would be dealt with in accordance with the law,” Agbede said.
Meanwhile, the state has begun the construction of security watch towers at the Model College, Igbonla which would be mounted with surveillance cameras and manned 24 hours to ensure that intruders could be located from afar before they wreck havoc.
This is just as teaching and learning activities resumed at the college following the expiration of the midterm break.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Mr. Adesina Odeyemi and the Tutor-general / Permanent Secretary, Mrs Margaret Solarin were both at the school on Monday for first hand assessment of the situation.
Also the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Fatai Owoseni and Divisional Commander of Neighborhood Safety Corps, Mr. Semi Lateef were also on ground to further ensure safety.
Owoseni said he was in the school to observe the resumption trend, assuring that security agencies were working to ensure the safe return of the abducted children but were being careful with the use of force.
There was no sign of apprehension or anxiety in the staff and students who were seen going about their normal activities. SSS III Science students were seen doing their physics practical for the NECO examination.
Since the kidnap of six students from the school on Wednesday May 24, there had been heavy security presence in the school to ensure safety of students.
On Monday, security operatives were on patrol while some were on ground to ensure safety.
Contractors were also seen working on the construction of the watch towers.
Apart from the watch towers, the perimeter wall fence is being illuminated with forty 250watts halogen lamps for security survey throughout the night. Bush adjoining the perimeter fence has been cleared while armed security operatives will be deployed permanently to man the school.
The Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, had promised during the Children’s Day celebration that his government would stop at nothing to ensure the safe return of the abducted children of the school.
Represented by his deputy, Dr. Idiat Oluranti Adebule, the governor said the state would not be intimidated to abandon his avowed pursuit of academic and physical development of the children of the State.
Some students who preferred anonymity, appealed to the abductors of their colleagues to release them unhurt as they are only children who couldn’t have contributed to whatever was the grouse of the kidnappers.
They urged parents to have confidence in the government and God to bring their colleagues to school for their academic pursuit to continue.