January 28, 2023

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CREFFPON raises alarm over alleged massive recruitment of street urchins for CRFFN election

The Congregation of Registered Freight Forwarding Practitioners of Nigeria (CREFFPON), has again petitioned the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, over alleged plots to rig the planned Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) Governing Council election.

The group in a petition signed by its Desk Officer of CREFFPON, Comrade Edwin Chukwudire Obi, said it observed massive recruitment of non-practitioners suspected to be streets urchins by some of the various freight forwarding associations in connivance with CRFFN in an attempt to rig the elections.

“Honorable Minister, it may interest you to know that, within this short period of the issuance of this public notice as announced, the CREFFPON has observed the emergence of some unprofessional signals which are not just capable of posing threats but may smear the integrity of the electoral committee members cum the outcome of the entire election and subjecting the electioneering process into a disrepute.

“The CREFFPON undertook an assessment of the ongoing registrations process at the various headquarters registration centres of some of the accredited associations and discovered bulk payments are made to the provided account and depleted as soon as the corresponding numbers of individual registrations is consummated, then another bulk payment will be made.

“Massive recruitment of non-practitioners suspected to be street urchins was observed leading to investigation of the registrations process. It was discovered that, no formal nor any format of screening standards was integrated to the registrations process, the system is open to all persons of no particular recourse as no form of prerequisites for professional registrations is required.

“Ideally, a registration process into the Register of the Freight Forwarders entails either by professional academic qualifications or by letter of indemnity letter stating qualifications by practicing experience of at least 5 years written and signed by a Chief Executive Officer of a registered corporate firm with the CRFFN. Unfortunately, the present process presents an all comers affairs mainly tailored for an electioneering process objective and afterwards, the Register of Freight Forwarders soars up momentarily and later suffers statistics distortion, making it a two-election year recurrent ritual, with thousands later to be recorded as non-yearly subscribers,” the petition reads.

The group also expressed concern that despite the tenure expiration of the former board members, the Chairman and some members of the Council still cruise the CRFFN branded vehicles, indicating that a governing council chairman has been determined beforehand whereby the election of the practicing freight forwarders into the Governing Council is a mere formality.

“We observed that, the Ministry appears to have appointed a seating governing council chairman, as the immediate past governing council chairman whom incidentally was reappointed to represent the North West region was seen still cruising the CRFFN branded vehicles bequeathed to the office of the governing council chairman thereby invariably parading himself as the governing council chairman.

“The concerns expressed by the practitioners is that, if the paraphernalia of the office attached to the office a governing council chairman is presently at official use and convenience of an appointed politician, who made his way to emerge as the governing council chairman in 2018 during the internal election of the CRFFN Governing Council members it means that a governing council chairman has been determined beforehand whereby the election of the practicing freight forwarders into the Governing Council is a mere formality.

“Going by the ideal administrative provisions at the end of each tenure of the governing council , official vehicles allotted or assigned to designated members of the governing council are to be returned officially to the management team, but this is not the case as both the immediate past governing council chairman and designated council members stills uses their branded vehicles at their convenience, implying that their earlier insistence of a 4 years tenure and their open objections to the court ruling of 2 years tenure for prevails, even as their re-elect soft copy posters trends virally in the industry social media platforms. Even campaigning with impunity ahead of the candidates screening and publications of qualified candidates lists by the electoral committee.

“To state the obvious, in the eyes of the practitioners, the transparency of this electoral committee and the election itself is suspicious, judging from the above scenario, where the same ministry that constituted the electoral committee failed to administer or direct the needful. Here again, the implication of early appointment of the geopolitical representatives into the governing councils prior to the conduct of an election of the freight forwarders into the governing council, negatively plays out itself.

“One of the accredited associations boasted of winning 10 seats out of the 15 seats provided for the election contest and has set aside a hundred million naira for the purpose of prosecuting its winning strategy. However, beyond this claims other associations and interested parties are suspicious of a possible internal behind the scene arrangement with the said associations to the effect of being too assured of the 10 seats as it claims.

“Equally, some of the accredited associations has since queued behind CREFFPON on its several interventions demands from the Honorable Minister, ranging from the objections to the Abuja venue of the election to Lagos as a most suitable venue, the high cost of nomination forms, the security implications of the Abuja venue, the time frame for the execution of the election, etc.

On the election time table, “The CREFFPON observed that, in item Nos.3:ii of the election time table, the committee noted thus; Screening of candidates from Western and Eastern Ports at Rock View Hotel, Apapa Lagos on 21st to 22nd September, 2021 from 10am to 4pm daily.

“Screening of candidates from Cargo Airports/Land Borders at the FMOT’s conference room, 8th Floor, Abuja on Friday 24th September, 2021 by 10am to 4pm”.

“By virtue of this Screening venue the CREFFPON is of the opinion that, this act is a subtle importation of a political division ( northern & southern dichotomy) in the Freight forwarding practice in negation of the intents, letters and character of Act 16 20087. This action further creates suspicion of the electioneering processes in the eyes and understanding of the majority of the practitioners. The following buttresses their suspicions further:

“Also observed that, in Item 5:iv of the Electoral Guidelines – with the caption, “Eligibility To Contest For Any Position “the committee stated thus: Pursuant to the provision of this act, all eligible persons must be elected based on the three operational zones as specified in section 2(1)(g) of the Act.

In item nos. 5:v : “All other Registered Freight Forwarders that meet the above requirements from (i – iv) are eligible but only those cleared by the Electoral Committee are qualified to contest elections into the governing council “.

In item 12 of the guidelines, the committee stated that “……..The decision of the Electoral Complaint Committee shall be final. No appeal shall be entertained “.

“Equally observed is that in the nomination form, the Committee carefully and deliberately omitted in the inclusion in the nomination form the candidates’ choice of operational zones as specified in section 2(1)(g) of the Act.

“All of these further buttress the existing suspicions of a hatched political move to return the immediate past governing council members back to complete an erroneous conceived 4 years tenure, thereby suggesting that the electoral Committee seems to be executing an arranged script.

“Honorable Minister, sir, your urgent attention and intervention over critical concerns expressed by the practitioners cannot be over emphasized.