Court Restrains Police From Interfering In PTDA Leadership Affairs

A Lagos Federal High Court, presided over Justice Akintayo Aluko, today, ordered the police to stay all action and maintain status quo in the matter brought by members of the Ejigbo branch of the Petroleum Tankers Drivers Association (PTDA), who accused the police of breaching their fundamental rights.

Justice Aluko made the order while delivering ruling in the Ex-parte application brought by the members of Ejigbo, Lagos branch of the the association.

The judge also ordered the police not to do anything that would breach the applicants’ fundamental rights, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit or pending further order from the court.

The applicants, who include: Ganiyu Oyebola, Adebola Alani Akala, Basiru Adebayo Akangbe, Jimoh Abdulrahman Danlori, Wasiu Ankelo, Bolaji Babalola among others, have sued the Inspector General of police, Deputy Inspector General of police (FCID), the Assistant Inspector-General of police Zone 2, CP Emmanuel Ade-Aina, the Nigerians Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Saheed Adigun Omogbolahan, Augustine Egbon, Williams Akporeha and Olawale Afolabi, who were listed as respondents in the suit marked FHC/L/CS/2661/2023.

The applicants, through their lawyer, Olumide Oyewole, have asked the court for the following reliefs; “an order for interim in junction  restraining the first, second, third and fourth respondents, either by themselves, agents servants and privies from taking any further steps or actions on matters pertaining to and or relating to the leadership disputes and or succession into political offices of the Petroleum Tankers Drivers Association, Ejigbo Unit, Lagos State pending the hearing and determination of the Originating Summons in these proceedings. 

“An order of interim injection restraining the first, second, third and fourth respondents either by themselves, agents servants and privies from engaging in any further acts of harassment and intimidation of the applicants by way of issuance of any invitation letter, issuance of threat of arrest and detention, and the actual arrest and detention of the applicants upon the allegations of the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth respondents pending the hearing and determination of the Originating Summons in these proceedings. 

“An order restraining the first, second, third and fourth respondents either by themselves, agents servants and privies from engaging in any further acts of harassment and intimidation of the applicants by way of arrest and detention on matters pertaining to and or connected with leadership and or political tussle within the Petroleum Tanker Drivers Association pending the hearing and determination of the Originating Summons in these proceedings.”

The applicants in an affidavit in support of the motion exparte deposed to by Ganiyu Oyebola, averred that they are members of the Petroleum Tanker Driver of Ejigbo Satelite Depot, Ejigbo Unit, Lagos.

The deponent averred that the first respondent, Inspector-General of Police, is the person under whose control, directive and instructions the second, third and fourth respondents carry out their legitimate and or constitutional duties and responsibilities as Police Officers. 

The deponent stated that in these proceedings, and particularly with respect to the complaints before this Honourable Court, it is our belief that the first, second, third and fourth respondents have gone beyond the mandate given to them under the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by taking sides with the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth respondents, and also doing their bidding and desires. 

He averred that the PTDA nationwide was prior to this time affiliated to the Nigerian Union of Petroleum & Natural Gas Workers due to its clear democratic ideals, and which said ideals were as a result of selfish and greed of its leadership in recent years has completely eroded, forcing our members resolve nationwide to exit and or cease our membership of the Nigerian Union of Petroleum & Natural Gas Workers. 

He further that the leadership of the Nigerian Union of Petroleum & Natural Gas Workers have impoverished them, and also deprived their association and members of their legitimate earnings by the huge operational levies, and which said operational levies are unaccounted for. 

He stated that the Petroleum Tanker Drivers Association nationwide at congresses and at informal gatherings nationwide then resolved exit their membership of the Nigerian Union of Petroleum & Natural Gas Workers, and which said resolve did not go down well with the Nigerian Union of Petroleum & Natural Gas Workers and their leadership. Adding that as a way to prevent the successful cessation of Petroleum Tanker Drivers Association membership, the Nigerian Union of Petroleum & Natural Gas Workers employed and or enlisted the services and help of the Inspector General of Police and the top echelon of the IGP office to harass and intimidate our members. 

He averred that in Lagos, particularly the Ejigbo Unit of the Petroleum Tanker Drivers Association, their members resolve to cease membership in the Nigerian Union of Petroleum & Natural Gas Workers, and also the resistance of the attempt to impose leaders on us has brought about all manner of acts of harassment and intimidation on our members, which include the use of the Nigerian Police and the Department of State Security. 

He stated that at the instigation of the 5th 6th 7th 8th and 9th respondents, they were summoned to appear before the Acting Commissioner of Police Lagos State and his team on December 6, 2023, and throughout that day, questioned on our activities as members of the Ejigbo Unit of the Petroleum Tanker Drivers Association which eventually led to them being compelled to sign undertaking, and which to us meant that we would not leave the Nigerian Union of Petroleum & Natural Gas Workers. 

He also stated that at the instigation of the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth respondents, we were summoned to appear before the Department of State Security, Shangisha, Lagos office on December 7, 2023, and throughout that day questioned on our activities as members of the Ejigbo Unit of the Petroleum Tanker Drivers Association which eventually led to them being compelled to sign undertaking which to us meant that we would not leave Nigerian Union of Petroleum & Natural Gas Workers. 

The deponent stated further that at the instigation of the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth respondents, they were again summoned to appear before the 3rd Respondent and his team on December 8, 2023, and throughout that day questioned on our activities as members of the Ejigbo Unit of the Petroleum Tanker Drivers Association which eventually led to them being compelled to sign undertaking, which to us meant that we would not leave Nigerian Union of Petroleum & Natural Gas Workers. 

The deponent also averred the followings: “At the instigation of the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth respondents, again, all applicants were on Tuesday, December 19, 2023, were arrested by a team of Police officers from Abuja acting on the instructions of the second respondent, and taken to custody at Area F Police Command, but later released at about 12.00 midnight on December 20, 2023 with a condition to return at 9.00am for further questioning. 

“We have again at the instigation of the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth respondents been served with another invitation letter to appear before the second respondent and his team on January 10, 2024 in Abuja for the sole purpose of harassing and intimidating us with the target of making us abandon our resolve to cease membership in the Nigerian Union of Petroleum & Natural Gas Workers, and also achieve a successful imposition of leaders on us. 

“Prior to the use of force on us by way of Police harassment and intimidation, the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth respondents have used all manner of failed tricks and gimmicks to make us abandon our resolve to cease membership of the Nigerian Union of Petroleum & Natural Gas Workers, and for which we let them understand that except they imbibe democratic principles and also are fair and transparent with our finances, we would not return to the Nigerian Union of Petroleum é Natural Gas Workers.”

The applicants, therefore urged the court to grant the relies sought.

Justice Aluko, after listening to applicants’ counsel, in his ruling ordered that status quo be maintained and that the defendant should stop all action on the matter until the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.

Justice Aluko thereafter adjourned the matter till February 8, 2024 for hearing of the substantive suit.