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ANLCA 2023: Sticking With The Abuja CCC Accord


Once more, despite the recent peace accord brokered by the Customs Consultative Council (CCC) at a meeting held in Abuja, anxiety and tension has descended on the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agent (ANLCA), over fears of government hammer falling on the association by way of proscription.

From left, ANLCA Board Member, Chief Dayo Azeez, Presidential Contestant, Emenike Nwokeoji, Vice Presidential Contestant, Segun Oduntan

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Of recent, there have indication that the Federal Government is considering banning ANLCA to forestall any breakdown of law and order in the port industry, given the association’s protracted leadership crisis since 2018.

Last week, ANLCA warring factions, together with the association’s past leaders and elders, industry stakeholders and respected Nigerians, including the association’s leadership organs namely National Executive Committee (NECOM),  Board of Trustees (BoT) and the Association Electoral Committee (ASECO) were fully represented at the meeting and reportedly endorsed every resolutions aimed at achieving peace.

Top on the resolution is the extension of the lifespan of the NECOM by two weeks, after which it ceases to exist and the BoT takes over the administration of ANLCA and ensure that it works with the ASECO to conduct election within two weeks; subject to member’s license verification, as a major pillar of the peace accord.

In addition, the communiqué signed by the Peace Accord Secretary, Dr Eugene Nweke Rff highlighted the following: Adoption of Constitution 2013 as the official registered Constitution as a working document; Adoption of the present CRFFN BOT STRUCTURE – to be followed by a Board Election after the NECOM ELECTION; Adopted The Present Composition of AESCO with a caveat that ASECO members operating licenses validity will be verified with the NCS, the BOT inclusive; A Caveat reached to the effect that, licenses confirmed not to be valid, implies that such license owner will be dropped from being a member of the ASECO/BOT; NECOM ELECTION holds before the end of August, 2023.

From left, ANLCA Presidential Contestant, Kayode Farinto, National Secretary, Mukaila Abdulazeez

The communiqué further note: Character/ Integrity and Capacity should be given a priority in choosing leaders across board; Aspirants to conduct themselves with high sense of integrity and maturity, and educate their followers and supporters; A Press Release to be jointly signed by the BOT Chairman and Vice to enlighten members on the accord reached; and the CCC to monitor the progress of accord implementation and the electoral process.

Whilst every segment of the association were presumably going about their tasks to consolidate on the peace accord, essentially in respect of the forthcoming election, a meeting of the BoT and ASECO called by the BoT Chairman, Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha, allegedly designed to truncate the Abuja Peace Accord, once again sent panic and shock that has since enveloped the atmosphere like a huge lightening thunder.

Industry chieftains and former leaders of ANLCA,including BoT Chairman, Mustapha, second from right

Among concerned members of ANLCA that condemned the BoT/ASECO, in view of decisions taken therewith is the erstwhile Coordinator of Western Zone, Chief John Ofobike, who said the meeting and decisions reached by it were against the peaceful resolution reached at the Abuja CCC Accord Meeting.

from right, Hajia Muse, Chief Oyinba, Prince Oduntan and others during the CCC Peace Accord Meeting held in Abuja, recently

Concerns were also raised over the composition of the controversial meeting, said to have been skewed in favour of one faction, namely BoT Vice Chairman, Prince Ozo Chukwura, his colleague from the other side, Mr Eniola Igbaroola and the Board Chairman, Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha, who have been repeatedly accused of either being too weak to steer the affairs of the association in a just and firm manner; or else, caving under pressure to do the biding of certain actors in the Eastern Zone, from where he operates; just so to safe his head.

Convener of the peace dialogue, Aare Olarewaju, right, with CCC Members during the meeting

At the said meeting, Mustapha allegedly directed the ASECO to commence verification of voters licenses in the Eastern and Northern Zone, despite claims that some members of the ASECO have been accused of not possessing valid practicing licenses; and apparently, also in contradiction to the peace accord that the CCC should screen members of the Board and ASECO for license qualification to be able to continue to function in office under the hitherto arrangements.

Speaking on the development, Ofobike said, “At the CCC meeting, it was agreed that ASECO members licenses and that’s of the BOT members would be verified, and that the board would take over the association after the NECOM vacate office after the two weeks deadline given to them, which expires next week (this week).

“It was agreed that any meeting being held by any other groups is clandestine and it was agreed that the Constitution of 2013 should be used for the election. But Mustapha went to hold meeting with two members at the Secretariat and saying that ASECO should go to the East and be verifying licenses, and that the mode of election is AGM.  I have said that meeting was held to rock the boat, l have not changed my position.

“I want you to also remember that the 2013 constitution says it’s through collegiate according to Section 22 of the Constitution. I have been saying that Mustapha is too weak, now we are all seeing it playing out, he is now dancing to please those he is afraid of in the East. A leader must be just and firm, now they have thrown spanners at the Abuja resolutions”, he lamented.

But Mustapha has denied the allegations that he is working to truncate the association’s peace process,  saying he merely acted in line with subsisting arrangements between the BoT and ASECO in furtherance of the upcoming election.

He said, “My attention was drawn to a report in an online medium that said we were involved in a secret meeting. Number one, the meeting was held at the National Secretariat, and in the presence of every other members; and if the meeting was not held at night, that meeting can’t be said to be clandestine.

“Two, why l called the meeting was that NECOM will be handing over to the board by next week, and there are outstanding financial issues that need to be resolved before the time.  Then the verification of voters, we have over 1000 voters…l mean the ASECO,  irrespective of the position of the licenses, we need to know how far they have gone with the verification.

“As at the time we were going for the CCC meeting, there was an issue between the NECOM and BoT in view of the dissolution of NECOM, the verification was ongoing, so before the NECOM handover there’s need for the BoT to know the position of things.”

He explained that there was a misunderstanding about his intentions regarding the reported verification exercise in the eastern zone; even as lashed out at those criticizing him for undermining the due process as been self centred.

“Also before the recent resolution, ASECO had started verification process in the eastern zone, so l directed the Chairman to go there and know where they stopped so that all these things could be contained in the handover report.”

“The information about the meeting was sent out to the BoT and ASECO platforms by the BoT Secretary, Kingsley Offor three days before the meeting for all to be aware, so where is the clandestine meeting coming from?

“And if I may state further, I have no apology for whoever or any group within the association that feels I should dance to their tune always. The earlier we all get prepared for this NECOM election, the better for all of us so this tension can be yanked off our back”, he declared.

Meanwhile, as a fallout of the controversial meeting, the ASECO has issued time table for the upcoming NECOM election for August 15th 2023 in line with the resolutions reached during the peace dialogue; plus the verification and screening of licenses of voters at Eastern and Northern Zone agreed at the disputed meeting to commence on 1st to 3rd of August 2023, with deadline for submission of petition to ASECO fixed for August 5th August 2023.

The most questions begging for answer is if the BoT and ASECO as presently constituted can legitimately function without first of all been screened to verify that qualify to continue in office based on the peace accord? There are also worries that inspite of the limited time frame constructed by the CCC, it is yet to commence the screening of the BoT and ASECO; which may have given room to speculations and the questioning of the BoT/ASECO vexatious meeting; in view of perceived non qualification of some individual members of the two organs.

Also commenting, former ASECO Chairman, Barr. Enekwechi Raymond Onyimba punctured holes on the BoT/ASECO meeting and the election time table, which he considered an oversight by the CCC Peace Accord Meeting; lamenting that under the tight timetable, justice may not served, in view of twisted arguments here and there, which includes the mode of election; whether it should be by AGM or Collegiate method.

Oyinba said, “Section 1 of the  Communiqué (Abuja CCC Peace Accord Meeting) states that the Association 2013 Constitution shall be adopted as working document for the purpose of finding peace, while Section 8 stated and I quote:

“That Licenses of ASECO and BOT members as presently constituted should be verified by CCC within one week from the date of the meeting being 19th July 2023.

“In distilling the issues raised above, (1) Can it be fairly agreed  that ASECO and BOT members can continue in office when their operating licenses that qualify them to be members of Association are suspected not to have been verified within one week as contained in section 8 of the CCC Communiqué.

“(2) In subsection 1V of same Communiqué…Is it right to ignore one of the causes of the crisis identified in this section and pretend over those not properly appointed to continue to supervise our electoral process?  ASECO’s guidelines hitherto the wise interventions of CCC were based on 2020 constitution (while) the committee presently pretends not to be aware of the Abuja peace accord by continuing its activities (based) on the 2020 Constitution other than to immediately revert to 2013 Constitution; while our highly respected BOT appears to have slept over their right of supervision of ASECO in this regard.”

Worried, Oyinba asked, “What will happen if any member of ASECO or BOT fails the integrity test but have already taken steps or actions in conduct of this election? Will the election be said to be fair and credible?”

He appealed to the CCC to put its foot down to ensure that the resolutions reached are carried out as mutually agreed upon.

“While rounding off, permit me to respectfully suggest that the Seven Wise members of CCC should conclude the Verification of operating licenses of ASECO and BOT as contained in the Communiqué to avoid miscarriage of justice.

“It better to geninuely foster peace on the Association through its constitution than pursuing one month election plan which appears to me as very impossible to achieve; but nothing is impossible before God Almighty.”

Also speaking, Brother Chukudi Ike, tasked the CCC and those who midwifed the peace resolutions to ensure that every agreement is carried out to the latter.

“It would be a miscarriage of the directives of the CCC if licenses of all members of the Board and by extension those of ASECO sit at any meeting without their licenses being first verified. The CCC should ensure that justice is not only done but must be seen to have been done. Nothing should be done to provide those who are in perennial defiance of Court Orders and Directives to have their way.

“Now that the Wise Men of the CCC have presented  a roadmap  to solving the  lingering problems,  it will not  only be stupid to apply some of the directives and leave some but will endanger the Spirit of  the Abuja Peace Accord”, he enthused.

While the 7-man CCC is chaired by Hon. Hakeem Olarewaju, other members of the Council includes DCG Austen warikoro (Rtd), ACG Liman Bello (Rtd), Mrs. CFO Ezenwa, Comptroller Victor Dimka (Rtd), Alhaji Inua Mohammed and Dr. Eugene Nweke.

The Peace Accord Committee drawn from industry stakeholders with proven integrity includes  Barr. Hassan Bello, Chief Peter Okocha, Prince Olayiwola Shittu, Sir Ernest Elochukwu, Eze Amb. Damian Obianigwe, Chief Oye Ariyo among others.

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