The striking commercial drivers in Lagos under the aegis of the Joint Drivers Welfare Association of Nigeria (JDWAN) have said the outstanding issues that led to the strike have not been resolved yet.
The group in a statement issued by its National President, Comrade Abiodun Akintade, and obtained by SaharaReporters on Sunday also accused the Lagos State government of arresting and charging some of their members to court for joining the strike.
According to the group, the state government denied being aware of any extortion and harassment of commercial drivers by motor park thugs, popularly known as ‘Agberos’.
JDWAN, however, said it would take a break from the strike for a week and resume on Monday, November 14.
Since last Monday, the drivers have boycotted services across the state over alleged extortion of their members by the management of parks and garages in the state, as well as those attached to the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN).
After one week, the group however said the issues have not been resolved and that no promises have been made by the state government even though there have been meetings between executives of JDWAN and the state government.
It said on Friday, “JDWAN leadership had a meeting with the permanent secretary, Ministry of Transport, Abdulhafiz Toriola, who denied the government awareness of any extortion and harassment by agberos, which is laughable, to say the least”.
In the statement, JDWAN said the permanent secretary “referred us back to the Lagos park and garages management, chairman, MC Oluomo, the leader of the illegal and violent extortion racketeering in Lagos”.
Narrating how the meeting went, JDWAN said, “As we were in the meeting at Ministry of Transport, Alausa secretariat, one of the drivers who were arrested at Alafia Orile, Onyebuchi Michael, was being arraigned at Tinubu Magistrate Court, TBS, Victoria Island, for complying with the drivers’ strike while Ibrahim Adisa and Felix Eze were transferred from Area K Command, Oko Afo to Onikan Zone 2, to be arraigned on Monday, November 7th, 2020, probably at the same court.
“The state government is singing blues in the meeting and news media but playing loud heavy metal rock to our eardrums thereafter.
“Lagos commercial drivers are not fools and would not remain silent while the rights and freedom of our members are denied.
“Nothing has been resolved, no promise was made, the brazen daily extortion in Lagos was denied by the state government, harassment and brutality of commercial drivers by LASTMA (Lagos State Traffic Management Authority), task force and Nigerian police were also denied.
“To add salt to injury, the government referred us back to their employed bullies and propose another meeting while also making excuses that MC Oluomo is busy and might not be around for the proposed meeting.
“After a congress of the Joint Drivers Welfare Association of Nigeria, we have decided to take a week’s break and watch how the state’s dribbling will play out on Monday.
“We call for solidarity at the Tinubu Magistrate Court (TBS, Victoria Island) where our members are being charged for complying with the sit-at-home strike by commercial drivers and also need every public support from civil society organisations, media, and all Lagosians at the meeting at Alausa secretariat simultaneously.
“The Joint Drivers Welfare Association of Nigeria remains undaunted and will continue the strike on Monday, November 14th 2022, if our members are not released unconditionally if the state refuses to obey the restraining court order and accede to our demands.