By Olufemi Adediran, Abeokuta
The 13-man transport union committee set up by the Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun is currently enmeshed in allegations of bribery and corruption.
The committee was set last month to coordinate the activities of road transport unions operating in the State.
But barely a month after inauguration of the committee, led by Barr. Sunday Olufemi Adeniyi, there have been allegations against members of the committee of collecting bribes from certain leaders of the National Union of Road Transport Union (NURTW), the Articulated Motorcycle Owners and Riders Association of Nigeria (AMORAN) and the Amalgamated (ACCOMORAN) favouring them over other members of the unions.
The allegations are giving rise to growing concerns that certain members of the committee might have been heavily compromised.
Fingered in the allegations are, the Chairmanship aspirant of NURTW, Akeem Bodunrin, popularly known as Iyeru, Wale Ajiboye of AMORAN, Samsudeen Apelogun of ACCOMORAN.
According to a source who spoke to Uhuru Times under the condition of anonymity, some members of the committee had “milked” a lot of the transport unions members dry and turned against those who don’t have money to give them.
He said despite the committee’s claim that it had not anoint anyone as substantive or interim State chairman of any of the unions, the committee seems to be favouring some members of the unions over others.
His words, “We worry about the undue favour in the issuance of tickets to Akeem Bodunrin (Iyeru) for NURTW, Wale Ajiboye for AMORAN, Alhaji Samsudeen Apelogun for ACCOMORAN despite their claim of not anointing anyone as substantive or interim State chairman of any of the unions.”
He questioned the rationale behind allotting the unions’ tickets to certain people for sale while others were let out.
“Why is it that tickets are always given to the sets of people at the expense of others that have been made members of the interim body put up for the unions? They later shared the tickets to who they like among the unions members and to make it worse, they even shared to people who are never known members of the unions to sell at parks and garages”, he queried.
“For example”, he said, “the NURTW tickets are always issued to Akeem Bodunrin (Iyeru), who in turn give it to people like Farouk Akintunde, Niyi Edun (Oniro), Gbenga Ajayi (Ubeku) to sell at parks as these are people who don’t have any history with the union as members. They now have parks and garages under their supervisions.”
“More worrisome is that people like Iyeru, Wale Ajiboye (MTN) are said to be owing the government heavily from past tickets issued to them but they still get to be favoured at every subsequent week. It is believed this is so because they have heavily compromised the committee members.”
“The said committee members even went as far as, intimidating other union members who are opposed to the favoured names, trying to blacklist them and even harassing them with possible police arrest as being people disrupting their activities in order to silent them and scheme them out of the own game.”
An aggrieved member of the NURTW and also a chairman aspirant, Mutiu Akindele, popularly known as Kugbe who spoke to Uhuru Times explained that after the committee was inaugurated, they called all the aspirants (himself, Lukmon Adenekan and Iyeru) contesting for the chairmanship position of the union for a meeting but to his surprise a member of the opposition, Allied People Movement (APM), Lukmon Ajuwon was also invited to the meeting.
“I don’t know the reason why they (committee) also invited someone from the APM if not that they have collected money from him. We were later told that the former chairman of the union, Akeem Adeosun popularly known as Jango was the one that brought Ajuwon.”
“After the meeting, the four of us were given a letter to go to the State Internal Revenue Service (IRS) office the following day to collect the union’s ticket”.
“But to my surprise, the following day we called Iyeru and he told us he was not going that we should go and collect the tickets, not knowing that the committee had collected money from him and given him the tickets. This was what led to the crisis.”
“As I’m speaking to you now, I’m yet to get any ticket to work in my branches. The information we got was that tickets are now given to Afolabi Afoape, a member of the committee and a former Commissioner in the State.”
“Up til now, Iyeru’s boys are the only ones selling tickets in the parks which is against the initial arrangement that we should all be working together. We refused to confront them because we don’t want chaos”, Akindele said.
But reacting to the allegations, the Secretary of the Committee, Mr. Tunji Akinosi denied the allegations, describing the situation a unfortunate.
Akinosi who spoke to Uhuru Times on the phone, said, “Those that were not involved in transport union activities were also interested in going into it, basically because they feel that there is money there and there is no crime in doing that.”
“What we did immediately the committee was set up was to call all the aspirants who were contesting for the chairmanship position of NURTW. Iyeru, Alameeda, Akeem, Kugbe and Number one from Remo axis. Out of these four, three of them are the ones that are active in the activities of the national union. Kugbe is not active in it.”
“One of them, Alameeda at the meeting stepped down to support Iyeru. Going forward, we called Jango that was there before to give us one person from his own end because our Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun has said he is running an inclusive government. We have three people already on ground, but we don’t want to be vindictive to those that were not part of us, that is why we called Jango to give another person.”
“We gave the four of them a note to IRS to collect tickets and work for the week. We expected, at least the three of them that are with us, who are our people to pick one of them to lead them but to the surprise of the committee members, two of our people yielded to the person that Jango brought because they don’t have the people on ground to assist them in selling the tickets. That is Kugbe that does not know anything, although he had been there for awhile but left over five years ago. Him and one other person tilted towards the person that Jango brought.”
“They started quarrelling among themselves. When the quarrel didn’t abate, the man that came from Jango was said to have taken the note, absconded with it and collected the tickets and was giving it to their own people. That was why we took the tickets away from them and gave it Iyeru who has the capacity to run the activities at the parks.”
“Of course because they are members of the union, they want to attack some people, they want to maim themselves but the Governor would not allow the State to be run aground by some unscrupulous elements, so the Governor instructed that wherever we have issues like that, we should call in the law enforcement agencies to take charge and that is what we have done in the past few days”, Akinosi added.