Nigerian Maritime Workers Union election mired in controversy

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Simon Ateba/Lagos

Even before the first vote is cast, the election of those who will run the affairs of the crisis-ridden Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria for the next four years, is already mired in controversy.

A motion to stop the election all together and disqualified some candidates has already been filed in court and threats of violence during the vote continue to reverberate in the multi-billion naira industry.

The claimant, Comrade Ishola Adeshina Surajudeen, alleged in an affidavit at the Nigeria’s National Industrial Court in the Lagos Judicial division that the President of the Union who is seeking re-election, Mr. Anthony Nted, is not qualified to run and should step aside.

According to Surajudeen, all workers engaged in the maritime sector, excluding those in the professional and managerial cadre are qualified to be member of the Union.

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But, he added, Nted is the majority shareholder; Director and in the managerial cadre of a company known as Nted International Limited through which he claims membership of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria.

The claimant also alleged in court documents obtained by our correspondent that Nted, because of his position, cannot and has never defended the interests of maritime workers, especially during negotiations with the management of employers in the maritime industry because he is one of them.

The provision of the constitution of the Union excluding persons in managerial cadre was to protect the interests of the workers in the industry, he submitted.When contacted, Mr. Bamidele Aturu, lawyer of the defendant, said Nted is qualified to contest.He said: “My position is that he is a bona fide member of the union and so he is qualified to run. But I will make my full position known when we are served. We have not been served.” 

The election into executive positions of the Union is taking place tomorrow in Abuja, the Nigerian capital.