By DAPO OLAWUNI
Following the mayhem unleashed on port users by some hoodlums who attacked the Tin Can Island chapter of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) on Thursday, the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) has said that one of it’s members, Comrade Wale Cole was harmed with machete.
Subsequently, the union on Friday suspended activities at the Tin Can Port, even as it warned that any further attack on any of it’s members shall be met with consequences.
Wale Cole is a Chairman of MWUN under the Barge Operations district. He was said to be in critical condition and currently receiving treatment at an undisclosed hospital following threats by the hoodlums to attack him at the Lagoon hospital where he was initially admitted after the incident on Thursday.
Recall that DAILY TREND had reported on Thursday that hoodlums stormed the ANLCA Secretariat at Tin Can Port and disrupted an ongoing maiden meeting of the Western Zone.
The maiden general meeting of the Western Zone was organised by the Taiwo Mustapha led faction.
The hoodlums, apparently sent by a rival faction in the ongoing leadership crisis in ANLCA, also took opportunity to harass other port users and by standers and there were report of robbery on traders around the Secretariat.
Announcing the withdrawal of Service, while addressing journalists in Lagos on Friday, President General, MWUN, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, described the attack as barbaric and one too many on members of the union. He warned that the union will not hesitate to withdraw its services from the nation’s ports if nothing is done to curtail the invasion of the Lagos ports by hoodlums unchallenged.
The MWUN boss called on the Nigerian Ports Authority, Nigerian Shippers’ Council and the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) to do more in regulating the activities of clearing agents and address security challenge at the port.
“There is no how we can continue with this kind of barbaric act where associations are using hoodlums to attack port users. If they had killed the man, that will be the end of his career.
“This is a signal and the last warning to those hiring hoodlums to attack port workers. They should not toil with us because we won’t allow anybody from outside to come and attack responsible port users who have business to do in the port.
“The law permits freedom of association, but when their activities is becoming too extreme and endangering other people’s lives, then the government needs to come in. The government should also intensify efforts to see how they will regulate the activities of the freight forwarding associations because it is no longer the profession we know, it has changed to where one faction will hire hoodlums to attack another faction and other port users.
“If the insecurity currently taken place in the port is not well managed, I don’t know where the management of NPA will find themselves. This is a signal that all is not well in terms of security in the port where the police have to run for their dear lives as a result of what happened on Thursday at the Tin Can Island port,” he said.
Adeyanju also called on immediate past President of the Association, Prince Olayiwola Shittu and other founding fathers of ANLCA to wade into the leadership crisis rocking the association in the past four years and restore its lost glory. Also speaking, Deputy Secretary General, Organising, MWUN, Comrade Abdullahi Eroje, recalled a similar incident where hoodlums suspected to be working for the Lagos State Park Management committee came into port and attacked port workers, leading to the death of four of their members.
He called on the government to put more security measures in place around the port areas to forestall future attacks by hoodlums. “Port is an exclusive zone of the Federal government and regulated by law and that is why government puts interest in port activities. We are not happy with this development that is why we are shutting down the port today. We have the police and other security agencies at the port yet hoodlums will come from outside and unleash terror on our members. You see hundreds of people around the port, who are they?.
“A similar incident happened on the 26th of July when Lagos State Park management committee came into the port to attack us and almost four of our members lost their lives. “We are therefore calling on the NPA to beef up security around the port because the year is almost getting to an end. We will also not tolerate it again if any of our member is attacked by any group or association. If the government is not ready then we can defend ourselves,” he said.
Also lending his voice to the solidarity protest, President Dockworkers branch of MWUN, Ibrahim Ohize said the leadership of the union will not condone such attack on its members anymore, saying, “This is the second attack on our members this year, we are using the medium to send a signal to the government that if the third attack happens, we will not hesitate to react.
“We have written series of letters on previous attacks but up till now nothing has been done and another one is happening now. But we will no longer fold our hands if this continues.”