Truckers and Carriers Association of Nigeria, TACAN, and Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, MWUN, are in a dispute over alleged extortion and an attack that resulted in three individuals being hospitalized with serious injuries at Lagos Ports.
TACAN accused MWUN members of responsibility for the attack, but MWUN refuted these claims, asserting, “The attack was a result of an electioneering campaign by the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA, that was disrupted by some hoodlums.”
Mr. Rasaq Babatinde, a member of the Board of Trustees of TACAN, stated that drivers and truck owners were attacked and injured due to their refusal to be extorted by MWUN. Babatunde claimed that N8,000 is extorted from each truck between Cocoanut Bus Stop and Tin-Can port, and while some of these collections are receipted, others are not.
He alleged that on Thursday morning, some of their members were attacked with dangerous weapons and warned never to come to the ports again. According to him, “the whereabouts of some members are still unknown as I speak with you.”
Kazeem Omoboriowo, an alleged victim of the attack, who claimed to be speaking from an undisclosed hospital, said: “My attackers are well known to me and I am also known to them. I can categorically say that they are members of MWUN.”
Another alleged victim, Mr. Taofeek Ogunremi, stated that the attack came unexpectedly after they refused to pay the N3,000 for the newly introduced ticket by the leadership of MWUN and the National Association of Road Transport Owners NARTO.
He said: “One of the boys that attacked us told others to stop the attack on me because he is known to him. After paying almost N30,000 on the ETO platform to get called up to the ports to load cargoes, you also get to pay another N30,000 before a truck gets to the port. Now we are being asked to pay N3,000 to MWUN and NARTO. This is becoming unbearable.”
The victims specifically mentioned one Taofeek, a Unit Chairman of MWUN, for orchestrating the collection and attack on any driver who opposes or refuses to pay the N3,000 ticket money.
Abdullahi Eroje, Deputy General Secretary, Organizing, MWUN, told Vanguard that the leadership of MWUN has no time for hooliganism but is concerned about the welfare of the drivers going in and out of the ports.
Eroje explained that a Court ruled in MWUN’s favor concerning the collection of union dues from trucks operating in the ports, explaining that to ensure the smooth collection of dues, MWUN and NARTO entered into an alliance to collect N3,000.
According to him, the Union hopes to provide toilets and bathrooms along the port corridor for truck drivers and their motor boys.
“To the best of my knowledge, we did not print a ticket to collect or extort money, and our position is to ensure that the welfare of drivers is guaranteed. The gridlock as we speak is not controlled by anybody, and that is why we put a monitoring unit in place to look out for the welfare of drivers. And we printed tickets in the name of MWUN and NARTO collaboration to take care of drivers”, he said.
“The attack that took place yesterday (Thursday) was a result of an electioneering campaign by the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA, that was disrupted by some hoodlums. This is what is being associated with the MWUN/NARTO collaboration. This is not true. We cannot deny Taofeek, he is our district Chairman, and the law gives us the right to unionize, and in doing so, we don’t use violence. We apply decent means to fight for members of the union.”
Mr. Shola Adesanwo, Public Relations Officer of the Tin-Can Island Port of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, confirmed the situation, saying: “I can confirm the situation in Tin-Can area of the Lagos ports. I just spoke with Port Security Officer, PSO, and as we speak, the PSO has mobilized Policemen to the scene of the situation to quell it. There was a meeting this morning between the Port Manager, Directorate of State Service, and the Port Police, and normalcy has returned to the port.”