Crisis rocks Anambra commercial motorcyclists’ leadership

Leadership of commercial motorcyclists otherwise called Okada riders in Anambra State has been enmeshed in crisis leading to accusations and counteraccusations between the two groups. In the middle of the crossfire are the former Anambra State Chairman of the Motorcycle Transport Union of Nigeria (MTUN), Comrade Jude Udegbe and the current leader of MTUN in the State, Chief Uchenna Anoliefo.

Comrade Udegbe insisted that MTUN is no longer in existence while he debunked accusations of financial misappropriation levelled against his leadership.

But Chief Anoliefo in an interview said Udegbe’s Motorcycle Welfare Association, Anambra State Chapter was not recognized and should be discountenanced with the counterclaims that MTUN has recently merged with all other motorcycle unions in Nigeria to form a trade union known as Motorcycle Operators Union of Nigeria (MOUN). He disclosed that MTUN, consequently, had become the same thing as MOUN at the moment.

Chief Anoliefo said Udegbe was the immediate past State Chairman of MTUN where he served for eight years.

He explained that a change in leadership came when a Southeast zonal meeting of MTUN was convened at the zonal office of MTUN in Awka. He said that adequate notice of the meeting was given to the leadership of MTUN in Anambra State in the persons of Udegbe and Mr Afamefuna Okeke but that they did not attend the meeting.

“Due to their absence, the meeting was rescheduled. Notice was also given to the duo of Jude and Afam again. On the day of the said meeting, the following national, zonal and State officers of MTUN were present: Chief John Onedibe,( National President of MTUN); Elder Charles Okongwu, (national vice President of MTUN); Nze Ezirim (national secretary of MTUN); Chief Boniface Okonkwo, (zonal Chairman of MTUN, Southeast); Comrade Elvis Okolie (national PRO of MTUN).

“Others are Barr Emeka Onedibe, (national legal adviser, MTUN); Comrade Uchenna Anoliefo, (the then National Chairman of Committee on Peace, Enforcement and Other Legal Matters of MTUN); Chief Alex Ibeazo, (national patron of the Committee); Comrade Eugene Chukwumaeze (State Secretary, MTUN); all State coordinators of MTUN were present. Some local government Chairmen were also present and other State patrons of the union, “he said.

He disclosed that it was at the meeting that the issue of non-accountability was alleged, adding that it was at that point that MTUN agreed to suspend the duo of Jude Udegbe and Okeke. He said that Comrade Anoliefo was then appointed the Caretaker Committee Chairman of MTUN to replace Udegbe in Anambra State. He also said that Comrade Eugen Chukwumaeze who served them as Secretary of the Union was retained in his position as Secretary, the Caretaker Committee with Barr Onedibe as the legal adviser of the Committee.

He alleged that for the years that Udegbe and Okeke served as State Chairmen of MTUN, they refused to be accountable to anyone, not minding the fact that they held their positions in trust, according to him. He said members of the union at local, State and national levels were complaining of inadequacies of the State leadership particularly as it concerned accountability.

He noted that it got to a stage where members of the union started writing to the national secretariat of MTUN, warning against the looming embarrassment the two leaders might bring upon the union if they were allowed to continue acting without restraint.

He alleged that even when Governor Charles Soludo banned the collection of revenue in the state Udegbe and Okeke did not stop revenue collection from members of the union in Anambra State which proceeds he alleged were not accounted for to date.

“Due to the fact that the national council of MTUN took a decision to sanitize the union as it was getting set to join other motorcycle unions in Nigeria to form a trade union, a committee called Peace, Enforcement and Other Legal Matters of MTUN was set up to enforce compliance to MTUN Constitution among the members. The committee was set up to force compliance among members with respect to policies of the State governments and also to sanitize the Okada industry at large.

“Meanwhile, at that time the committee was set up, Jude Udegbe was still the State Chairman of MTUN and Afam Okeke was the Vice Chairman of MTUN and the duo were automatic members of the committee. But, because of their incompetence and anti-union activities, they saw the mission of the committee as opposed to their personal interest and they refused to work with the Committee.

“Comrade Elvis Okolie petitioned the activities of the leadership of MTUN in the persons of Jude Udegbe and Afam Okeke to the national secretariat of MTUN.

The content summary of the petition was that these people have led for years without accountability. The crux of the petition was financial misappropriation, embezzlement of funds belonging to MTUN, extortion, and other anti-union activities. Due to the fact that the issue falls within the powers of the Committee on Peace, Enforcement and Other Legal Matters and such that could be handled carefully, the national body now referred the issue to the committee mentioned.

“The committee invited the duo of Udegbe and Afam Okeke to defend themselves. They never honoured the invitation. They started attacking the committee, and the manner in which the committee was set up, saying that Mr Alex Ibeazo was not capable of leading the committee as chairman. Alex Ibeazo later resigned his position as Chairman of the committee and was replaced by me, Comrade Uchenna Anaoliefo, as the present State Chairman of MTUN.

“Upon my emergence as the Chairman of National Committee Peace, Enforcement and Other Legal Matters of MTUN, Jude and Afam Okeke were invited again to provide answers to the glaring allegations against them. They honoured it. Surprisingly, Jude boasted that he invested in properties and that he didn’t waste it. Both of them boasted that they had made enough money, and nobody could confront them.

“Notice of this development was circulated and published in The Sun Newspaper as an advert and aired at the Anambra Broadcasting Service. This decision was never challenged in any court of law by Jude or Afam. This issue of financial misappropriation by Udegbe was brought to the Anambra State House of Assembly by the Director of Operations of Anambra Revenue Service and an order was made for the arrest and prosecution of the duo.

The Director of Revenue went to the Okada White House looking for Jude but could not see him. They later went to Jude Udegbe’s poultry farm and his house; he was nowhere to be found to date. Udegbe is on the run.

“Surprisingly, Jude and Afam Okeke are now telling members of the public that they have formed a new Okada union in Anambra. Their ploy is not to serve members of the public but to continue their extortion. For the purpose of clarity, Okada Union in Anambra State is one. The only union recognized by the State government is MTUN and MTUN has now joined the National Trade Union known as the Motorcycle Operators Union of Nigeria (MOUN). It is both a workers’ and employers’ union as opposed to what is being paraded by Jude Udegbe which is a mere employers union.

“MTUN has recently merged with all other motorcycle unions in Nigeria to form a trade union known as Motorcycle Operators Union of Nigeria (MOUN). As a result, MTUN is the same thing as MOUN. MTUN was registered with the CAC. What Jude is parading is a product of CAC while MOUN is a body created by the Federal Government which has the recognition of the Ministry of Labour as a labour union. MOUN is affiliated to NLC. As a trade union, MOUN is more positioned to cater for members’ welfare than what Udegbe and his group are parading.

“No union in existence bears the name Jude fronts. No single Okada rider is a member of the said newly formed union. MOUN is now in full control of Okada riders in Anambra State. The government is looking for Udegbe. We are willing to appear before any panel to justify our claims with evidence, documentary and otherwise. Jude Udegbe is at present saying that there is nothing like MTUN. Let him tell himself the truth. Immediately he was suspended he became aware that MTUN doesn’t exist anymore, what foolishness.

The same man who used the name of MTUN to collect money illegally from Okada riders is the same person that has now said he has formed another Okada union to continue his activities, “he alleged.

However, Comrade Udegbe dismissed all the allegations against him and Okeke describing them as laughable and insisted that MTUN had ceased to exist.

He substantiated his claims with a document from the Federal High Court, Awka which ordered that MTUN be wound up and dissolved at the instance of Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).

“Did they give you any document to prove that I was in office for eight years? When you came to me, I gave you the necessary documents to support my oral claims. They should also give you a copy of the suspension or termination letter of Afam Okeke and myself. They said they invited us. Where did they invite us? To which office? Did they tell you the address of the office?

“I challenge them to call a press conference and I will pay for that exercise. I will expose them more at the press conference either at a radio station or anywhere. I will tell the world what they don’t know.

“They said I made money, they too made money. Before I became Chairman of MTUN, I had made my money, and I invested my money in useful things. When they come for the press interview, the whole world will know whether I gave an account of my office or not. They said I’m being wanted or on the run, are you not here interviewing me? It’s left for the media to tell the world the truth. They make false claims, Udegbe said.


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