….Transport minister wades into crisis, to meet with warring factions Thursday
The seeming peace that returned to the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) barely four weeks ago after the CRFFN brokered peace in the crisis that rocked the association in the last five years appears to have collapsed as the registered Board of Trustees (BoT) of the association has pulled out of the peace deal.
This came as the BoT said it has petitioned the Ministry of Transport over the actions and inaction by the CRFFN Chairman, Alh.Tsanni Abubakar in the resolution of the ANLCA crisis, which it described as bias and a travesty of justice.
The BoT said the ministry has responded to its petition and all parties concerned have been invited to a meeting in Abuja on Thursday 13th April, 2023.
With this development, the planned National Executive Committtee (NECOM) election of the association also faces fresh uncertainty.
Speaking on behalf of the BoT at a press conference in Lagos on Monday, a former President of the association, Chief Ernest Elochukwu faulted the peace deal being touted by the CRFFN Chairman, describing it as a monumental fraud and an attempt to subjugate one party in the dispute in the interest of the other party.
Elochukwu who accused the CRFFN Chairman of compromise in his purported reconciliation move said while the tenure of the NECOM expired in April 16th 2022, the NECOM fraudulently extended its tenure in office till April 2023 and a further extension of three months to the knowledge of the CRFFN Chairman instead of the NECOM to hand over the affairs of the association to the BoT as stipulated in the ANLCA constitution.
He said while the BoT is ready to shift grounds and embrace peace to see an end to the crisis in the association, the reconciliation by CRFFN should be based on justice, equity and fair play.
He said, “This press conference was at the instance of myself and Chief Dennis Okafor as members of the registered BoT of ANLCA who have not participated, either by presence or by communication with what is going on.
“The essence is to let the media and the general public know that we are not part of the monumental fraud that is going on in ANLCA in the name of reconciliation and to let you know that even our members who had been railroaded into it are also not part of it.
“Considering the long time the crisis in the association has taken, any move for peace is most welcome but the question is what methodology is being employed or what kind of peace are we hoping to achieve because there are many types of peace. We have peace of harmony, peace of tranquility and the peace of the grave yard.
“We have always believed that a part of peace should also take cognisance of justice. There is no peace that will be done without justice.
“The much-touted peace which the Chairman of the CRFFN governing council, Alhaji Tsanni Abubakar has been going around with is a monumental fraud and an attempt to subjugate one party in a dispute to the interest of another party.”
Elochukwu recalled that in January 2023, the Nigerian Police through the then Area Commander in Festac had intervened in the ANLCA crisis and both warring factions had agreed on some actionable plans to resolve the crisis before CRFFN stepped in to disrupt the whole process.
He said, “We have already agreed on some things we need to do to bring normalcy back to ANLCA the principal of which was to jointly form the Association Electoral Committee (ASECO) that will conduct election at a particular point in time so that the vacuum at the NECOM level will not exist. But the question came out on which board was going to supervise the ASECO so the police said they were going to write the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to confirm the status of the original board that would conduct the election
“As at that time, the status checked in the CAC showed that we are the registered board. Apparently because they have another agenda, they never brought their nominations for ASECO, rather we started hearing about AGM. It was then that we felt that there was something wrong.
“At the eve of that AGM, Alhaji Tsanni Abubakar used people in high places to intimidate and arm twist our BoT Chairman, Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha to come and tow their line.
“When somebody is interested in mediation, you must interact and hear from both factions, but for the CRFFN Chairman to be interacting with one faction shows that he didn’t mean any good for ANLCA talk less of reconciliation as he was already taking sides. We were told about 250 persons were at the so -called AGM but we know that ANLCA membership nationwide is not less than 2,000 and so will the 250 from one faction be considered only members of ANLCA?”
“When the AGM was called, we complained by writing to the CRFFN Chairman letting him know that what he was doing smacks of taking sides and injustice and that was why we are not part of it but he never listened and we also wrote the ministry of Transportation supervising the CRFFN. We are happy to announce that the ministry has responded and has scheduled a meeting for 13th of April in Abuja.”
Elochukwu also dismissed threats by CRFFN to proscribe ANLCA and to withdraw its certificate of registration saying it is the court that can determine such matters.
“Whatever will be done in ANLCA has to be done in line with the constitution of ANLCA but we would not allow CRFFN to be used to terrorize ANLCA because CRFFN was more or less our product, we know what we did to get that Act into being, so that same masquerade we created should not turn around and be flogging us,” he said.
Also speaking, a member of the BoT, Dayo Azeez, said while he welcomed the eight-man BoT peace deal by the CRFFN, he was, however surprised that the NECOM led by Kayode Farinto held a NEC meeting where the tenure of the executives was extended by three months without the knowledge of the board.
He also alleged that after the controversial AGM where a six- man ASECO, which would conduct elections into the national and chapter levels of the association were appointed, the NECOM increased the membership of ASECO from six to seven, a decision which is against the peace deal agreed by both parties.
He said, “I want to let you know that Taiwo Mustapha who is the Chairman of the board is in Saudi Arabia presently, but he is aware of this meeting, we have communicated with him and he gave his consent
“Why I am pulling out of the agreement is because after the meeting we had with them (NECOM), they held a NEC meeting around Wednesday/Thursday last week but we were not informed and some decisions were taken like the extension of their tenure for three months. We cannot accept that because we were not informed. They once extended their tenure from four years to five years which was expected to expire this week, April 16 but now they have extended their tenure for another three months whereas it is the BoT that is supposed to take over.
“At the AGM, we also agreed to have 3 members from each of the factions to form ASECO but in the NEC meeting they increased it to seven and it was only their members that were there so we can’t take it that is why we are pulling out,” he said.
L-R: Chief Dennis Okafor, Chief Ernest Elochukwu and Mr Dayo Azeez, all members of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of ANLCA at a press conference in Lagos on Monday.