On 15 November, up to 20 persons were feared killed in an early morning clash between two rival factions of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in Sango-Ota, Ogun State.
Several members of the union, as well as other residents, also suffered serious injuries, as the fighters freely used dangerous weapons, including guns, machetes, iron rods, broken bottles and charms in the clash.
Local sources say the NURTW in Ogun State had been embroiled in protracted crisis, following its failure to conduct a fresh election, after the tenure of the immediate past executive, led by Chief Tajudeen Ibikunle (a.k.a Baruwa) had expired. The executive controls all motor parks and garages in the town, and its members make huge amounts from the commercial vehicles that use those facilities, without accounting to anyone.
Some members who felt aggrieved by the failure (or refusal) to hold fresh elections, had filed a suit in court demanding that elections be held, while others also filed a counter-suit challenging the conduct of any polls.
On Monday 14 November, Justice Peter Onamade of the State High Court in Abeokuta struck out the application that had challenged the conduct of the election and ruled that the union proceed with its polls. The local sources say fighting started later that night, when a faction of the union attempted to “forcefully overthrow” the Baruwa -led executive.
The violence prevented many workers in Sango-Ota and environs from going to work, as commercial vehicles stayed off the roads. Banks, shops and other businesses were also closed for most of the day. Thousands of travellers and commuters were stranded on the Lagos-Abeokuta expressway.
Fierce-looking policemen with Armoured Personnel Carriers were later deployed to restore order to the area. The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in Ogun State, Mr. Muyiwa Adejobi, told newsmen he did not yet have the exact number of casualties.
President of Nigerian medical students, Auwal Shanono, killed in transport workers’ fight in Ibadan, Oyo State
On 5 June, the national president of the Nigerian Medical Students’ Association (NIMSA), Mr. Auwal Bala Shanono, was killed in a fight between factions of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, in Ibadan, Oyo State.
Auwal was a 500 Level medical student at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. He met his tragic death on his way back from Ile-Ife, Osun State, where he had attended a national conference on preventing maternal mortality in Nigeria (UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children Report 2009 says “one out of nine global maternal deaths occurs in Nigeria”).
Innocent students caught in a senseless fight
Reports say Auwal, along with four other students, had stopped over at Iwo Road, Ibadan, to board a night bus to Kaduna. On getting there, they were caught in an ambush laid by one of the NURTW factions which had been locked in a vicious struggle for control of public motor parks in the city. Reports say Auwal was shot dead and burnt beyond recognition. The other four students escaped death by the whiskers.
His remains were laid to rest on 8 June, at the Unguwar Kanawa Muslim cemetery in Kaduna. The burial was attended by hundreds of tearful family members, relations, neighbours, friends and course mates.
Griefing Family Seeks Justice
His immediate elder brother, Haruna Bala Shanono, who spoke for the family, lamented that Auwal was their future, “our last hope on this earth”. The grief-stricken Haruna said the late Auwal “was the first person to study Medicine in our whole family, including the extended one consisting of over 500 people. He was everything to us”. He pleaded with President Goodluck Jonathan to ensure that the killers are brought to book.
The National Association of Kogi State Students has also called on the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Hafiz Ringim, to arrest and prosecute all those involved in the killing. The association’s president, Mr. Dare Zacheus, who made the call in Lokoja on 8 June, further urged the Oyo State government to inaugurate a high-powered panel to investigate the incident and compensate innocent victims.
On 10 May, unknown gunmen killed the chairman of the Borno State branch of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Alhaji Ibrahim Dudu Gobe, and wounded his son, in Maiduguri, Borno State.
According to one of Alhaji Gobe’s sons, the three killers trailed the union leader from the community mosque to his residence in an unmarked vehicle around 8pm that night. They waited for him to enter his compound and then shot him several times on his head and chest, with rifles that were hidden under their flowing traditional gowns. He died on the spot.
The gunmen also shot his son, Mohammed, who had opened the gate, on his arm and leg. The wounded child was rushed to the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH) but his condition could not be confirmed.
The Borno State Police authorities confirmed the incident to newsmen and said the state Criminal Investigation Department (CID) had commenced a probe of the incident and will bring the killers to justice.
Local residents say there had been several unsuccessful attempts on the union leader’s life before his assailants finally killed him. Security sources suspect he may have been killed by the militant Islamist group, Boko Haram, which has claimed responsibility for series of targeted killings in Borno and neighbouring states since mid-2010.
Shortly after he was elected the new governor of Borno State on 28 April, Alhaji Kashim Shettima stated that his administration would, within its first 100 days in office, hold discussions with Boko Haram towards granting its members amnesty, and restoring peace in the state.
However, on 9 May, a Boko Haram spokesman, Abu Dardam, told the BBC Hausa Service in Kaduna that the group would not accept any amnesty or dialogue because: “First, we do not believe in the Nigerian Constitution and, secondly, we do not believe in democracy but only in the laws of Allah”.
On 21 February, no fewer than five people were reported dead in Lagos, following a clash between rival factions of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) at Iju, on the outskirts of the state. However, the Lagos Police Command said it had confirmed only one person dead, with three others seriously injured.
The clash started on Sunday 20 February at about 10.30 a.m. and lasted till the early hours of 21 February when the deaths and injuries were recorded. Guns, machetes and other dangerous weapons were reported to have been freely used.
The police said they had arrested several suspects who would be charged to court over the incident, after further investigations at the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), Panti Street, Lagos.
Lagos State Police Command’s spokesman, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Samuel Jinadu said: “There was a report that street urchins at Iju area were fighting. One of them was macheted. He was rushed to the hospital with others, but he died in the process. The other faction came on a revenge mission. Five vehicles were damaged during the clash. The rioting gang smashed their windscreens. The cause of the clash was a battle for supremacy between the two factions of the transport union in Toyin Street and Ishaga area of Iju”.
“We are on top of the situation and we have arrested several persons over the matter”, he said