The President, National Union of Road Transport Workers, Tajudeen Baruwa and 21 others, including three other national officers of the union are currently being detained by the police in Abuja, and have been charged with alleged criminal conspiracy, culpable homicide, public disturbance, and conduct likely to cause breach of peace.
They were arrested and detained between Tuesday and Wednesday, and subsequently moved to the facility of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad popularly known as abattoir, located in Guzape, Abuja.
The spokesperson for the FCT Police Command, Josephine Adeh, confirmed on Thursday night that the suspects would be charged in court following the conclusion of the police investigation.
“The NURTW President was arrested alongside 21 others. They’re being charged with criminal conspiracy, culpable homicide, public disturbance, and conducts likely to cause breach of peace. They’ll be arraigned in court once the investigation is concluded,” Adeh said.
It was reported on Tuesday that at least one person was killed, and several others injured, while the FCT Commissioner of Police, Haruna Garba earlier confirmed the arrest of 23 male suspects, and recovery of three rifles, following the chaos that engulfed the Garki area of the FCT on Tuesday during a violent clash between two factions of the NURTW on Sapele Crescent, off Ladoke Akintola Boulevard, Garki II, Abuja.
Garba said, “Twenty-three persons have so far been arrested, and the death toll is only one; a yet-to-be-identified male. And three rifles were also recovered from the suspects.”
It was gathered that following the chaos that ensued on Tuesday, Garba invited Baruwa to a meeting on Wednesday which was also attended by the faction other NURTW faction led by its former Vice President, Tajudeen Agbede and Musiliu Akinsanya aka MC Oluomo, who was formerly leading the disbanded Lagos Park Management Committee whose members now occupy the NURTW Headquarters in Abuja.
It was learnt that Baruwa honoured the invitation believing that the meeting would help address the ongoing rift, but he was instead arrested and detained alongside three other NURTW national executives – the General Secretary, Chukwudi Asogwa, the Deputy General Secretary, Abdulkadir Musa, and another officer.
However, members and supporters of the Lagos State Park Management Committee led by Agbede who allegedly forcefully took over the NURTW national secretariat located at Garki 2 after a violent attack, were neither arrested nor detained.
It was reported that Baruwa had on several occasions raised the alarm and sought the intervention of the Nigeria Police Force and Department of State Services over an alleged plot by Agbede and MC Oluomo’s group to launch a violent attack on the secretariat but the security operatives feigned ignorance.
Baruwa also alleged that the police were working in connivance with Agbede and Oluomo’s NURTW faction; an allegation that led the Nigeria Labour Congress to give the NPF a 48-hour ultimatum to vacate the secretariat of the union.
In a communiqué signed by the NLC President, Joe Ajaero, and the General Secretary, Emmanuel Ugboaja, the union had threatened it would muster all its affiliates for a showdown in support of what it said is the legally elected NURTW leadership.
It had accused the NPF of interfering in the internal affairs of NURTW and other unions, saying the police have usurped powers of arbitration in disputes, contrary to the dictates of statutes governing industrial relations.
It also alleged that the Inspector-General of Police, Olukayode Egbetokun did not intervene following the invasion of the NURTW national secretariat by thugs to unseat the elected leadership of the NURTW.
The NLC affirmed the legality of the Baruwa-led NURTW leadership, and warned that moves to upturn governance of the transport union could lead to breakdown of law and order.