The Presiding Judge, Owerri Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court, His Lordship, Hon. Justice Ibrahim Galadima has declared that the NATIONAL UNION OF ROAD TRANSPORT (NURTW) and the ROAD TRANSPORT EMPLOYERS’ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (RTEAN) as registered trade unions by virtue of the Trade Union Act and their rights to operate are only limited to necessary approvals or licenses granted by any local government authority where the unions are allowed to be formed.
The Court held that the ROAD TRANSPORT EMPLOYERS’ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA is also empowered to operate the Arugo park for the purpose of generating revenue for the Owerri Municipal council by collecting such revenues, levies, and fines on their behalf and in accordance with the terms of concessions having been expressly permitted by their constitution to issue out tickets, collect levies and fines from drivers within the parks where they operate.
Justice Galadima urged the NURTW Imo State branch to contain any of their agents’ activities which may be inimical to the coexistence of the two unions generally and to the RTEAN right to control and use the Arugo motor park exclusively for 2 years as contained in their agreement with the municipal council.
From facts, the applicant- RTEAN had submitted that the NURTW Imo branch trespassed into and constituted themselves as saboteurs of its activities, particularly in the Arugo motor park, Owerri, and sought for a determination whether the act of invading the Arugo Motor Park along Onitsha Road Owerri with thugs thus disrupting their activities inclusive of ticketing in the said park does not constitute trespass and economic sabotage in view of a letter of approval from the Owerri Municipal Council that the RTEAN is vested with the possessory rights/power and authority to control, manage, operate and handle ticketing in Arugo Motor Park, along Onitsha road, Owerri among others.
In defense, the respondent counsel, U.C. Osuji Esq averred that the RTEAN is an association recognized under the laws and its jurisdictional scope does not include the daily operations of motor parks and the control of drivers that the NURTW is the only union recognized by the law to operate in the motor parks in Nigeria by virtue of the provisions of the Trade Union Act, urged the court to dismiss the case.
In reply, the learned counsel to RTEAN, E.C. Ezeifedikwa Esq submitted that Owerri Municipal Council acted lawfully to grant the applicants the powers to take physical control of the subject matter to the exclusion of these respondents, urged the court to grant the reliefs sought in the interest of justice.
Delivering the judgment, the presiding Judge, Hon. Justice Ibrahim Galadima held that with regard to the 3rd schedule part C of the Trade Union Act and the guidelines on Nigeria Labour Laws and policies of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment that RTEAN is a registered and recognized Trade Union with the powers to operate motor parks anywhere in Nigeria, Imo state inclusive.
Justice Galadima further stated that recognition as a registered trade union is not the same as recognition of the right to collect revenues or levies on behalf of the local government authority that the powers to collect levies are circumscribed by the local governments’ powers to permit or license them to do so.
“Nothing prevented these respondents to have applied for and use the motor park before the applicants. I believe the applicants are thus entitled to an exclusive, quiet, and peaceful enjoyment of their license which is for 2 years, in accordance with the conditions and terms of their concessions with the Owerri Municipal council, and I so hold.”