The crisis rocking the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, in Lagos State, yesterday, deepened as loyalists of the newly appointed Chairman of Lagos State Parks and Garages Management Committee, Musiliu Akinsanya, popularly known as MC Oluomo, and Chairman of Tricycle Owners and Operators Association of Nigeria, TOOAN, Azeez Ajibola, popularly known as Istijabah, clashed at the Ayobo area of the state.
The situation was, however, brought under control by security agents, who stormed the area.
The incident, which happened at about 8 am at Ayobo bus stop, spread to Megida, Alagbado, and its environs, with residents scampering for safety.
There were different stories as to how the trouble started. An eyewitness, who gave the account of the clash, alleged that MC Oluomo’s loyalists stormed Ayobo to forcefully take possession of the garage from TOOAN, who resisted the move.
A resident of Ayobo, Sobola Michael, who witnessed the scene, said some loyalists of Istijabah were engrossed with the day’s activities at various parks when some loyalists of MC Oluomo arrived in about 10 vehicles shooting into the air to scare people away.
Michael said: “I was carrying out my mechanical job in the area when some area boys alighting from the vehicles shot into the air. Commuters deserted the area, just as motorists abandoned their vehicles and ran for dear lives.
“I had to abandon the vehicle and join many others to scamper for safety. As I speak, I don’t know the fate of the vehicle I abandoned, but I thank God for my safety.”
Another eyewitness said the fight was between Istijabah’s loyalists and those of one of his executives identified as Pastor, who pulled out of the NURTW to join Oluomo’s committee. Pastor, as gathered, was the financial secretary of TOOAN which is under the NURTW. He was said to be manning one of the garages around the area.
However, upon the ban on activities of the NURTW by the Lagos State Government, he was said to have opted out of the union to join MC Oloumo’s group.
But he insisted on maintaining the supervision of the garage, a decision that reportedly did not augur well with Isitjabah, who was quoted to have told him to go and meet Oluomo to give him another garage to manage.
We had no role in the clash — MC Oluomo
When contacted, Personal Assistant to Oluomo, Buhari Jimoh, stated that Oluomo’s loyalists played no role in the fight.
He said: “The clash was between Isitjabah and one of his executives, who wanted to leave the NURTW since the government had suspended its activities in Lagos.
“As a former member of the executive, he controls a garage. But Isitjabah’s boys prevented him from operating in the garage. The man went to get policemen to man his garage yesterday. But when the policemen left, Isitjabah’s boys invaded the garage again.”
On his part, Isitjabah accused Oluomo of allegedly taking over 20 parks and garages that were under TOOAN’s supervision. According to him, the initial promise by Oluomo was not to forcefully collect any park from NURTW members.
One of his aides, identified as Moshood, said:
“My boss is an easy-going person. We have been waiting for the meeting between Oluomo and other executive members of NURTW to discuss how the garages and parks would be shared without violence.”
Police arrested 5 suspects. Meanwhile, operatives of the Rapid Response Squad, yesterday, arrested five people in connection with the crisis. As of the time of writing this report, policemen and soldiers were stationed in the affected areas. Also, shop owners, who had locked up for fear of losing their wares to hoodlums, had reopened.