Again, Police Seals ANLCA National Secretariat
…As BoT Chairman, Mustapha Assures Members of End to Impunity
BY EGUONO ODJEGBA
The Nigeria Police Force comprising of the IGP Team, Zone 2 Headquarters and the Area E Command yesterday took possession of the National Secretariat of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), in the bid to flush out those described as illegal occupants, in favour of the association’s registered Board of Trustees (BoT).
The takeover of the secretariat is the climax of over three years leadership crisis between the association National Executive Committee (NECOM) and the Board of Trustees; within which period the NECOM through multiple court rulings was suspended and charged to desist from parading itself in office, but nevertheless discountenanced the said court rulings and perpetuated itself in office.
Addressing members of the association on the takeover of the secretariat, the registered BoT Chairman, Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha expressed confidence in the ability of the police to enforce court rulings, and to restore order and peace in accordance with the constitution and laws of the land.
He assured the crowds of cwlwbrating members who thronged the secretariat to remain peaceful and law abiding at all time; and furthered assured them that display of impunity in the past three years and more has come to an end, noting that “l and others in the board have always believed that as a family, it was best we sit down to address and resolve issues, rather than resort to all manners of illegalities including open disobedience to court orders.
“Sadly, Tony Iju (court suspended National President) and others in NECOM felt they could continue to trample upon the law and refused several overtures by the BoT to sit down and settle our differences which they caused ab nitio.
“Today, the BoT has yet again taken the lawful initiative and the police have sealed up the secretariat. It belongs to all of us and we can no longer allow few outlaws to continue to appropriate the place and to continue their illegalities.”
Also in a chat with media men at the secretariat, Mustapha said that whereas the BoT has condone several acts of illegalities by the NECOM, its brazen assault on the Seme Chapter of the association was the last straw that broke the camel’s back, and which made the board resolute in bringing to an end the reign of impunity.
He said, “You’re quite aware of the crisis we have been having in the past three years, and its unfortunate that up till now, we couldn’t reach any compromise within ourselves. Personally l have tried to bring peace back to ANLCA. I have spoken severally with Tony Iju, I have personally spoken with Henry njoku, l have personally spoken with Kayode Farinto and babatunde Mukailla but all to no avail.
“But the climax of the whole thing was when they had to invade Seme recently. I looked at that we cannot continue like that anymore. Despite the fact that they came up in their own idotic manner that they have expelled five of us, and l kept cool for months to see if somebody among them is going to be reasonable enough to cut the crap and call for peace. But rather than doing that, they kept violating the law and l felt l could no longer wait until somebody’s head is cut, and that is why we have do this mobilization by going through the police hierarchy, as custodian of law and order.
“This will be the end, its either we come back together or there will be no peace at the secretariat again. Our members are determined that we must recover the secretariat from them, we have tried over the past to appeal to them to remain calm, but the more we preach peace, the more Tony Iju and his group take their impunity higher, at this stage l can no longer press members not to react and demand for what is right.”
Asked if the development has anything to do with tenure expiration of the Tony Iju led NECOM, Mustapha interjected and said there has been no NECOM in place in view of subsisting court orders, that what has been in place is at best the arrogant display of impunity.
“When we say tenure expiration, did they have one? There has been no tenure, they were only operating illegally, the court order that suspended them from office is still there. The issue of them going to Owerri to make constitutional changes and all the other acts like extending their tenure for another one year, that is their own headache as part of the impunity that we have resolved to end.”
Reacting to open comments by the crowd of members shouting and jubilating outside and within the secretariat that a few individuals cannot take ANLCA Secretariat hostage and that the suspended NECOM must account for monies and collections made so far, the BoT Chairman said:
“That is exactly why we are here, in the last three years, what have they done with what been coming to the national purse? Who is going to account for it, there is a lot of things that have gone wrong. But we (BoT) kept quiet thinking that one day, we will be able to talk within ourselves. Its unfortunate, l had so much hope in the person of Tony Iju because l have always seen him as my personal friend, and l kept pressing everybody down that look, lets give him the necessary cooperation, but its sad the kind of reaction l have gotten from him. My message to our members nationwide is that we have taking a step today not because anybody is happy but because we have a duty to hand the hands of the oppressors. Its an admonition in my own village that you either help the oppressors or you help the oppressed. In this case, my members, you are seeing many of them outside there, they are the oppressed.
“They have been oppressed for three years, and l kept pressing them not to take laws into their hands, begging them to keep calm and don’t move. But here we are today, because the oppressed have refused to stop his oppression, so we have resolved to hold the hands of the oppressors.”
Also asked if there are plans by the BoT to continue to talk with the embattled national President and his NECOM even on his personal recognition, Mustapha answered, “I must tell you…the truth of it…my ultimate goal is to see peace back in ANLCA, to see reconciliation back in ANLCA, to see all of us sitting down, eating and joking and drinking together all over again. I still see them as my brothers, l still see them as my sisters. But where they decide to behave otherwise, we cannot continue to condone any irresponsible tendencies.
On the composition of the security presence at the secretariat and their mandate, Mustapha said, “We have the IG Team here, the AIG Team and the Area Commander Team. I decided to take it up from the IGP level down to the AIG and the Area Commander.
“Their primary duty is to have this placed recovered and to maintain peace in case our members or boys come here and they meet the other party (NECOM), so as to prevent confrontations.”
He further explained that whereas the BoT have taken possession of the secretariat and day to day running of the affairs of the association henceforth in line with its constitution, there is need to remain vigilant and guard against alleged moves by the suspended NECOM or its agents to foment trouble.
“We have taking over the day to day running of the affairs of the association until further notice. However we have put in place a Seven Man Committee led by John Ofobike to undertake the daily running of the association on behalf of the board, as the highest organ in times of crisis like this. And our ultimate goal is to see peace back in the association.”
He also waved aside the issue of election into NECOM in the immediate time, saying the board is more interested in resolving the existing leadership crisis as a priority; failing which it may consider other options.
“No the issue of election will not come in immediately. If we now realize that probably the other side is not ready for reconciliation, this place will remain locked up and under the supervision of the board, go back to court until the matter is disposed off. Our goal is to keep this place locked for the next two weeks, to avoid any untoward situation or bloodbath; why we await possible reconciliation from the other party. If that is not forthcoming, then we have every constitutional right to now put in place an interim administration that wil now start working from the secretariat.”
He listed other members of the committee to include Prince Segun Oduntan, Barr. Ada Akpornonu, Joe Sanni, Alhaji Sanni (Kano Chapter) and Chief Obi chima (Onne Chapter).
Also speaking, John Ofobike confirmed his acceptance to lead the 7-Man Committee and to join the board in the efforts to bring lasting peace to the association through reconciliation.
“I will always be ready to work for the peace and progress of ALNCA. I John Ofobike is involved in the history of the building of this secretariat. I sold the idea to the former Customs Comptroller General, Abdullahi Dikko Inde, may his soul continue to rest in peace. He was so magnanimous he gave us contacts of those who helped with financial contributions for the purchase and building of this place.
“Unfortunately, people who were not part of our dream ab nition, have seized this place. You can see there is no longer the kind of life we use to have here as a united family. I will remain very grateful to ANLCA till l die. I am like a pen in the hand of ANLCA. Anywhere ANLCA put me to work for its growth and survival, l will continue to do that. If the BoT in its wisdom have chosen me to be part of the people to work for its progress and bring peace back to ANLCA, l whole heartedly accept my nomination.”
According to the ANLCA Registered Chairman BoT, while three members of the NECOM resolved to abide by the court rulings and discontinued from parading themselves in office, five others including the National President, Vice President and the National Secretary, stayed put in office and carried out functions he described as illegal, which included Chapter Elections and Annual General Meetings, and National Executive Council (NEC) meetings with a purportedly contrived NEC composition.
Aside the chairman BoT, Prince Taye Oyeniyi was the second board member on ground during the repossession of the national secretariat.