By Shola Fadeyi
L-R: National President, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Hon. Tony Iju Nwabunike, his Vice, Dr Kayode Farinto and Prince Ozo Chukwura at a media parley, held by the Association in Lagos yesterday ,on the Road Map to peaceful resolution of the crisis in the leadership of its Board and its other activities during the year.
More uncertainties surround the resolution of the lingering crisis at the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents(ANLCA), as the National Executive Committee (NECOM) of the Association ,led by Honorable Tony Iju Nwabunike, as the National President has said it would organise an election, to have a new Chairman and other members of a new Board of Trustees(BOT) soon.
This is in spite of the contention by the Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha- led BOT , which has been at loggerheads with the NECOM over its legitimacy, that it just started its six years tenure in January this year,based on the Certificate of Registration it collected from the Corporate Affairs Commission(CAC) and a legal backing it claimed it secured to that effect.
Nwabunike who made this revelation ,at a parley with the media in Lagos yesterday said that the Association’s Annual General Meeting(AGM) will precede the BOT election, explaining that NECOM was taking the step, for the fact that ,the six years tenure of the erstwhile Board expired in February this year, and as such the Association’s had no Board since then.
Shedding more light on the matter, he said a nine- man Board , of which he was a member and even came first in the ballot, was elected in Warri in 2014 , while he left when he became the President in 2018 ,even as three other members resigned honorably following the expiration of their tenure , but pointed out that the remaining five have refused to bow out, claiming they still have a mandate as Board members.
ANLCA Vice President, Dr Kayode Farinto corroborating the President, disclosed that the NECOM would have elected another BOT , since the expiration of the tenure of the former, but for the disruptions caused by the Covid -19 pandemic and the ENDSARS Protests , adding that there was not supposed to be such a long vacuum in the first place.
For the benefit of hindsight , the Mustapha led BOT had continued to pride itself in the election it said the Board held in Lagos on April 13, 2018 , where it averred that its group of five defeated three which supported the former Chairman , Sir Henry Njoku and thus made it possible for Mustapha to emerge as a bona fide Chairman.
But Nwabunike disclosed that he and the NECOM did not recognize the Board and the election it laid claim to ,because he had told the affected members that they could not have organised such poll ,without his knowledge , on the eve of his inauguration as President, while the former BOT Chairman, Njoku has said he never participated in any of such election.
The National Secretary of the Association , Alhaji Abdulazeez Babatunde in its own contributions explained that the Certificate Mustapha referred to has already been withdrawn technically by the CAC , which said it issued it in error , sequel to the petition raised by the former member of the BOT, Chief Peter Obi who had secured a ruling against the Mustapha led BOT.
Obi had queried the legitimacy of the BOT on the account of their names not being listed on the record of CAC as members of the ANLCA and averred that the body could not have issued them the Certificate to which they laid claim, when he, (Obi ) was still in court seeking interpretation to the issue he had raised with the CAC.
Nwabunike stated that there was however no going back on its decision as it concerns the Board election adding that it has gone a step further to intimate the CAC, adding that one of those who lost in the last Board election of 2014 in Warri has even picked his nomination form.
As it concerns further concession the NECOM was willing to make, to have peace between it and the BOT, Nwabunike said he has already told Alhaji Mustapha to call four of the other members of the BOT and be ready with his group of five members to go into another election with the assurance that he would recognize the winner.
He said that Alhaji Mustapha has however turned down his suggestion , puncturing allegation by the former that he has made series of overtures of peace to NECOM ,with a view to finding solutions to the crisis.
Nwabunike pointed out that what they were out to achieve is to distract his executive and make the association ungovernable for him, saying that series of court cases they have instituted against him and his NECOM were meant to achieve this .
The President said he has now decided that ‘enough is enough’ of his pacifist approach as he has resolved now to use his constitutional powers including that the of the Emergency Powers as enshrined in page 44 of the Supreme Constitution of ANLCA.
The Provision of the Emergency Powers says,’’ Where any issue or matter arises which is not covered or contemplated in the Constitution, the BOT and or NECOM shall have power to take decision for immediate resolutions of the issue or matter in the best interestof the Association and report same to the NEC meeting.
However, despite that the proposed move of NECOM is in line with its constitutional power , many well- meaning watchers in the freight forwarding and maritime sector , who fear that the move may further polarize the ANLCA, have suggested that an amicable resolution of the crisis in a ‘‘family way’ ’through the involvement of elders of the body , with each of the parties resolved to make sacrifices , would bring peace to the association.