BY EGUONO ODJEGBA
Alleged chief promoter of the recurring crisis that intermittently rocks the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Chief Henry Njoku, his political protégé who double as the embattled Acting President, Dr. Kayode Farinto were yesterday ferried out from the Association’s National Secretariat during an National Executive Council (NEC) Meeting called by them, as the meeting reportedly spilled out of control.
The development followed members’ sudden protest against the duo’s alleged moves to manipulate proceedings in favour of their predetermined plans. Others who ran for cover along the major protagonists is Njoku’s defence runner, Chief Peter Obi, including the latest controversial ANLCA Patron, Prince Taye Oyeniyi.
This is even as the failed NEC meeting may have effectively put on hold the association general elections, already fixed for July 5, 2023 following confusion that recently assailed the legitimacy of some members of the Association Electoral Committee (ASECO), which is believed to have also formed the basis of the aborted NEC meeting.
The ASECO got sucked into the melee after it resisted the association’s Board of Trustees (BoT) move to verify its members operating license believed to be the requisite qualification by all participants in the electoral process, following suspicion that the members who were handpicked by Njoku and Farinto have been wired to will work rig the process and make mockery of the electoral due process; including the fear of unjustifiable disqualification of contestants over issues of license validity.
Trouble started at the NEC meeting, when Njoku sought to take over control of the BoT vide his protégé deft maneuvers to deploy a suspected black market resuscitation of a certificate of registration purportedly issued by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) since 2001, insisting same as a legal instrument with which those positioning Farinto for the presidential contest allegedly plan to use to manipulate the electoral process.
Amid the rancor filled atmosphere, those opposed to the alleged plot to take over the board and force a predetermined NEC sitting, suddenly grew uncontrollable by their numbers, and sensing danger, Njoku and Farinto’s minders quickly built a wall of fence around their principals and whisked them into away into safety.
Farinto in his address during the NEC meeting had faulted the Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha’s led BoT move to verify the licenses of ASECO members, saying such action was not supported by the constitution.
He said, “The first reason for calling this NEC was a development where we read in the newspapers and online news that, the Board asked the current ASECO to submit their individual licenses for scrutiny which negates the constitution of our Association that stipulates that the Board shall nominate members of the ASECO which shall be ratified by the NEC. The development came just few weeks to the election proper and it calls for concern however l wish to reiterate that this is wrong no matter the good intention.”
Thereafter, he announced that Henry Njoku led BoT are on standby as the alternative board with the powers to co-steer the meeting, while saying that the Mustapha led BoT stand defective an inapplicable owing to its purported withdrawal by the CAC.
Reading from his prepared speech, Farinto said, “In the cause of the crisis, Chief Elochukwu and others insisted and compelled the Nigerian Police to write to Corporate Affairs Commission to determine which the genuine board was. It will interest the NEC to know that the commission has written back that she has cancelled two certificates which were in contention and saying that Chief Henry Njoku and others are still the recognized board members.
“In view of this, we will be delighted and will want it to be on record as to which board will supervise the forthcoming NECOM election to forestall any litigation after the election”
But sympathizers of the Mustapha led registered BoT and the Emenike Nwokeoji and Segun Oduntan (ENSO) Campaign Team speaking with our reporter shortly after the botched NEC, slammed Njoku and Farinto for consistently and allegedly engaging in dubious plots to destroy the peaceful coexistence of the association.
This is even as they resolved that henceforth, they will not allow the twosome and their co travelers, including Peter Obi and Taye Oyeniyi to take their peaceful disposition for granted; while they warned Njoku, Farinto, Obi and the others to desist from further disturbance of the peace of the association, in the collective get ANLCA back on its feet.
Speaking, erstwhile Western Zone Coordinator, Chief John Ofobike accused the duo of Njoku and Farinto not only of anti-association activities but of assiduously working to allegedly achieve complete destruction of the association, in the event that their morbid ambition to hang onto power fail.
He said that while well meaning members of ANLCA have resolved to embrace the questionable peace package contrived by the Chairman of the Governing Board of the Council for the Registration of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN), Alhaji Tsanni Abubakar was taken to preserve the sanctity of ANLCA, he lamented that those who see the association as a means to daily survival, are not willing to give up until they completely sink ANLCA.
He therefore urged members to remain vigilant and to remain united in the responsible struggle to continue to resist and to ward off the trouble makers he qualified as bulls that have strayed into a Chinese glass shop, and which must be taken out by tact and diligence.
“I want to thank every one of you for the zeal and the spirit of patriotism for the soul of ANLCA. For five years we have been in this crisis. It cost me a lot of pains to see that ANLCA that has made all of us is been dragged to this level. The Chairman of CRFFN came and forced us to swallow a very bitter pill, after some rethink we say let us even see if it’s going to bring a lasting peace.
“We accepted the fake board of four-four members from each side. I will say for the interest of peace, let it be. Do you know that they have registered a parallel association called Ports Users Association? Farinto was sworn in as president in the East last year. Dennis Uku is the chairman of the board; Kingsley Ofor is member of the board, while Henry Njoku is the chief patron.”
He revealed that the NEC meeting arbitrarily called by the embattled Farinto led NECOM was designed to set the ground rolling for the rigging of the July 5 2023 scheduled election. He disclosed that the only reason well meanings members have refused to respond to them with equal force is to avoid further damage to ANLCA.
“The essence of today’s meeting was to elongate the tenure of Farinto who have stayed five years and half, but we will not allow these things. When you have a cow in a Chinese glass shop, you don’t use cane to chase the cow out. You will call him bull, rub him and call him bull (cajole) and use style to remove him from the glass shop. That is what Farinto and co are in ANLCA, and we are trying to remove them like a bull in a Chinese glass shop. If we use force they will scatter ANLCA because they have registered alternative associations they will go to.
“God has continued to grant us wisdom, today if we had boycotted the meeting, they would have gone ahead with their evil plans. Imagine what they wanted to do, they went to NEC meeting only one sided and tricked our board members there, three members of the board, where Taye Oyeniyi fell and agreed to their suggestion for him to withdraw from the board. Dayo saw what was going on and he left and at the end of it they appointed 4- 4, 4 from our own side and 4 from their own side, and we agreed for peace to reign.
“They constituted ASECO, and based on due process we said there must be screening and verification of license of everybody, plus the licenses of the people who are conducting the election on behalf of us. There are some petitions against them and the board set up a committee to verify the authenticity of the licenses in question. To kick against this, Henry Njoku now called this NEC meeting.
“He flew in from Port Harcourt to tell us that the only known board registered in Abuja is the board of 2001, was Henry Njoku the only person there? Taye Oyeniyi was part of it, late Asuquo as not part of it, and Sunday Odedeyi was part of it. Today Taye Oyeniyi does not have license, Sunday Odediyi don’t have license, Henry Njoku’s Haritex license has been suspended.”
However, according to Ofobike, members vehemently opposed attempts by elements loyal to Njoku and Farinto to steer the acceptance of using the 2001 board with Njoku as head.
“Most of us raised our voices and said, if you are saying that his board is the registered board, it means this so-called NECOM is null and void. What they were trying to do was to send the eight members that was brought by CRFFN to mediate peace away, so that Henry Njoku will assume the leadership of the board and to inaugurate a new ASECO and then choose a venue of election, and also chose the mode of election.
“Most of the people who came there, even from their own side were not happy with what happened today. And that was why everybody called the NEC off. Henry Njoku, Taye Oyeniyi and Peter Obi Dom took to their heels, they were smuggled out because they have seen the danger that was coming. I want to appeal to every one of us to be calm, we should continue to be calm.
“Njoku and Farinto aim is to destroy the association if they cannot be in control. There is nothing like NEC in election. ASECO is an independent body in the constitution. You cannot be a referee in a match you are playing, that’s what Farinto is doing. I want the press to know that the people who are feeding on ANLCA are the ones causing the crisis, the press should tell the world.”
Speaking on the development, a member of the registered BoT, Sir Ernest Elochukwu accused Njoku and Farinto of deliberately stalling every peace processes and legitimate activities of the association, even as he informed that Njoku and Farinto disrupted the intervention of the Nigerian Police which was yielding useful result, as they latched onto the Chairman of the Governing Board of CRFFN, Abubakar to use his power to get them into office, willy-nilly.
“In the meeting we held with Area Commander Area E Festac Town, when the issue of NECOM overstaying reared its head, the Commander advised that we should continue to work with them whether their tenure has expired or not for the sake of achieving peace, and we played along, now people are abusing it.
“The 2008 Constitution of ANLCA has no room for extension of tenure, it states that in the event that there is a lacuna, the board should take charge of the association’s affairs.
“You know sometimes people take certain actions, believing that they have monopoly of mischief, is it not shameful that Njoku should be showing his face in ANLCA after his disgraceful conduct over the years? At what time will be grow up and perhaps begin to show responsibility? In 2008, to be sure we don’t give room for interim government which the constitution does not envisage, when l left, Njoku as chairman of the board took over the running of the association’s affairs until 2018 when Shittu came onboard.
“Also, remember that after Aare Shittu wasn’t performing as expected in acting capacity, the board under Chief ldornigie took over the running of the association and also brought in lnua Mohammed, so there are precedence, apart from the fact that board takeover is constitutional.
“The narrative they have been putting is that the secretariat has been attacked, but of course we know the underlying factors and those who carried out the attack. Anything like clash may not result in the best image of ANLCA. There are those who think our respectability should be preserved, but there are those who also think otherwise, and engage in destructive tendencies and impunity, like what has played out.”
Pinnacle Time can report authoritatively that Farinto and his backers were upbeat at causing trouble with the NEC, which he actually forced, but luckily, almost got consumed by it. When he broached the idea of the NEC Meeting for yesterday, the Chairman Board, Mustapha pleaded with him to shift the date forward in view of Muslim members who have traveled or are about to travel for the hajj or to their home places.
In a correspondence between Farinto and Mustapha, a copy of which was sighted by our reporter, the former rejected all the plea of the latter to postpone the NEC, to give everyone the opportunity to attend, but Farinto remained defiant, in his characteristic disregard for elders, for his betters and indeed for official discipline and decorum.
Even when the Chairman Board asked what the urgency of the meeting portend, Farinto resorted to the use of his personal letterhead to reply, insisting the meeting must hold, that those involved in religious activities should send people to represent them.
Mustapha who was obviously miffed for once put down his feet and insisted that the meeting being called apart from been impromptu, should recognize the feelings of those already in the mood of Sallah.
The chairman BoT letter addressed to the Acting Vice President reads: “I am a little bit disturbed with this excuse to still go on with the so called emergency NEC meeting. If I may ask, what is the urgency to hold NEC meeting because BOT is trying to investigate ASECO members to be sure of their compliance. I have mentioned it to ASECO team that there is nothing to worry about the on-going investigation. And why is NECOM trying to play the role of a litigant? Whatever comes out of the investigation should be left for NEC to decide and not to hurriedly pre-empt the BOT.
“And if I may state categorically clear again, the upcoming NECOM election will surely come, and the board will NEVER play the role of a spoiler. ANLCA is ONE, and we are gradually coming out of this crisis. This election MUST not only be credible, but be seen to be credible and acceptable to the majority.
“Without sounding fanatical, would the Ag President insist on holding the NEC meeting on the 23rd of December when our Christian brothers and sisters are on their ways to their towns and villages for Christmas?
”I insist and still request that the meeting should be postponed for majority of the NEC members to attend.
“Thanking you for anticipated co-operation.”
The acting President refused, apparently all in the bid to actualize whatever has been contrived in collaboration with the faction supporting his desperation from the CRFFN.
Also commenting, Secretary, Tin Can Chapter , Ovien Michael Imonitie Esq argued that those pushing for the position of the acclaimed 2001 BoT they wish Henry Njoku to chair should also note that retroactively, the said BoT has rendered the current NECOM, Board and all other organs redundant and of no effect, since the board instrument used for their inaugurating has been pronounced defective and non operative.
He said, “Since the CAC has cancelled the Registered BOT that presided over the Election of 2014 at Enugu, that brought in this NEC led by Mr. Tony Iju and his Excos does not have any legal right in presiding our any meeting as from today being 26/06/2023 because the ASECO that conducted that election was directly powered by ANLCA Constitution of 2008, Section 13, sub (4) d.
“Appoint the ASECO to be ratified by NEC and monitor all election” based on the above, the coup led by the NEC to unseat the Alh. Taiwo Mustapha led BoT under the watchful eyes of the Vice Chairman BoT, Prince Ozor Chukwura, have shot themselves in their legs.”
He continued, “Since the Vice President of ANLCA has deemed it fit to put it in black and white in his address, fine, and say that the board that was registered, which is the board of Taiwo Mustapha in 2020 and their own board that was rushed into registration last year is now no more in existence. Which means the CAC have cancelled their boards.
“The question now is, if you have canceled the board of the people that supervised the NECOM, which means there is no NEC or NECOM in existence. It also means we have to go back to status quo. It wasn’t Henry Njoku BoT of 2001 that conducted the election in 2014, because if they were in existence, they would have been the one to conduct the election since they are not the one that conducted that election, the seat of both the BoT, NECOM and everybody is hereby declared vacant. So at this time we are back to status quo to retrace and reenact ANLCA from the scratch.”