ANLCA BoT reports CRFFN Chairman to Transport Minister
BY GBOGBOWA GBOWA
In a no retreat, no surrender fashion, the Registered Board of Trustees (BoT) of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has petitioned the Minister of Transportation, Muazu Jaji Sambo about alleged misconduct of the Chairman of Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) Alhaji Tsanni Abubakar, who the Board accused of unremitting bias and primitive tendencies in his interventions in the association’s ongoing leadership crisis.
The letter signed by the BoT Chairman, Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha and the Board Secretary, Prince Taiye Oyeniyi urged the Minister to call the CRFFN Chairman to order and to prevail on him to release the report of the resolution committee set up by the council seven months ago to resolve the crisis.
Feelers from the registered board indicate that the resort to seeking the minister’s intervention was to avail him an up to date summary of efforts made so far to resolve the crisis; and to urged him to guide the CRFFN Chairman against bringing disrepute to the ministry through his alleged inappropriate combative disposition in the face of an already embarrassing situation he has allegedly exposed the ministry.
The Board expressed disappointment that rather than intervene in the crisis with leadership decorum and sagacity, Abubakar the board says has resorted to the antics of a bull in a china shop, by not only sitting down on the report of the reconciliation committee, but also, for purportedly engaging in the promotion of illegalities through the demand for a compromised Annual General Meeting (AGM), plus the indecorous application of primitive threats.
In a copy of the petition sighted by our reporter, the BoT accused the CRFFN Chairman of bias for declaring support for another faction of the association, led by Kayode Farinto to convene the disputed AGM in Lagos on 2nd of March 2023.
The letter dated 20th February 2022 and titled “COMPLAINTS AGAINST THE CHAIRMAN OF CRFFN GOVERNING COUNCIL ALHAJI ABUBAKAR TSANNI ON THE ISSUE OF CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS IN THE ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIAN LICENSED CUSTOMS AGENTS ANLCA reads:
“The Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) is the foremost association in the freight forwarding subsector in the sense that almost all the other associations were splinters from it. In that light, ANLCA has a long history of norms and operational pattern as well as strict adherence to the spirit and letters of her constitution.
“In 2014, a set of Trustees were elected in Warri, Delta State for a statutory tenure of six years and in 2018, a new set of National Executive Committee members (NECOM) were elected at Enugu for a statutory tenure of four years. A normal internal election by BOT members to change the leadership of the BOT as had been done previously was resisted by the then chairman Henry Njoku and the new NECOM supported him.
“As if that wasn’t bad enough, one of his supporters went to court and obtained a judgment which proclaimed that because the trustees were yet to be registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), they could not be legally regarded as trustees of the Association.
“Thereafter, the affected persons took steps to get themselves registered at the CAC via a registration dated 16th January 2020. Further legal advice they sought explained that the tenure of Trustees started on the date their application for registration was received by the CAC. About the same time, some members of the Association went to the same court to challenge the election of the NECOM on the ground that the now declared illegal BOT conducted the election.
“They sought for an order of the court restraining the affected persons from parading themselves as national officers of ANLCA and same order was granted. While the order was still in force, the concerned persons in violation continued parading themselves and taking many actions including holding an AGM where they purportedly extended their tenure by one year and also purported to have elected another set of trustees.
“Though they used some underhand maneuvers to procure registration of their so-called trustees, the CAC promptly canceled the registration upon being alerted of the fraud. CURRENTLY, at the expiration of the tenure of the NECOM on 6th April 2022, the Registered Board of Trustees took over the running of the association as provided for in the Supreme Constitution of ANLCA and in keeping with the norms appointed an interim NECOM pending when election could be held to constitute another NECOM.
“Expectedly, the situation had created factions in ANLCA and brushes between these factions had brought the attention of the Nigeria Police Force into the matter. As recently as on the 12th of January 2023, the Police Area Commander in FESTAC (the location of our national secretariat} brought the two sides to a peaceful resolution meeting. He informed the attendees that he was carrying out the directive of the IGP through the Lagos State CP that the ANLCA crisis be resolved considering the implications to the nation’s general and maritime security. Some actionable resolutions were agreed upon by both parties before the meetings ended.
“However and most surprisingly, the expired NECOM went on to purport to convene a dubious AGM where they planned to use the gathering of their cohorts and cronies to take actions that will further exacerbate the crisis in ANLCA.
“The Registered BOT promptly stopped the proposed AGM through a publication in This Day Newspaper of 6th February 2023. In their own reaction, the Police invited the two sides and directed that all unilateral actions be suspended until they (the Police) come up with their findings concerning the authenticity of claims and documents presented to them. ‘
“Honorable Minister Sir, while we thought that good counsel had prevailed, we got another shock this time through a directive said to have been given by the CRFFN Governing Council chairman instructing the expired NECOM to convene an AGM on the 2nd of March 2023. The impression being bandied about is that the Governing Council Chairman is carrying out the Honorable Minister’s directives. We consider the Governing Council Chairman’s actions not only vexatious but manifestly insulting for the following reasons;
(i) By directing one side in a dispute to convene the AGM, the Governing Council chairman broke all known rules of impartiality in mediation and conflict resolution.
(ii) Some seven months or so ago, we were informed that the CRFFN set up a committee headed by one Alhaji Abba Yusuf to look into the ANLCA crisis. Many of us including past National Presidents were interviewed by the committee but the committee never came out with a report. We later had grapevine information that some interests within the Governing Council had been working to suppress the report which was considered unfavorable to them.
(iii) The duo of Henry Njoku and Kayode Farinto are members of the Governing Council and are the key leaders of the opposition and decency demands that the Governing Council chairman should have excused them in any actions if he is genuinely interested in resolving the ANLCA crisis.
“We therefore request you sir, to call the Chairman of the Governing Council to order by making him rescind whatever biased directives he has given. Secondly, since the Council saw it fit to constitute a committee to look into the ANLCA crisis, the report and recommendations of that committee should be brought to your attention if it can’t be made public”
Recall that the Chairman of the Governing Council had last week in a newspaper report bragged about using the power of office to ensure that the controversial AGM is held, adding that the council would deal with the Registered BoT or members, who attempt to obstruct the AGM through a court restraining order.
Abubakar was quoted as saying his decision is final and unchallengeable even at the law court, and further boasted that he would deploy government power to brow beat all and any dissenting voices into submission.
A newspaper report not Pinnacle Time quoted him as saying: “Normally if you go to court, some people will accept the judgement, while some will reject it, and in every dispute, someone will always win and it is always like that. The Council has taken its decision and we stand by it.
“I don’t even care, whatever anybody is saying, so whatever anybody is saying, all I know is that on March 2nd, we will have the AGM. We have been on this for many months, so we have to come to the end of it. Nobody is above the law, anybody who thinks he can confront the government, we are ready to face such a person,” he said. Uncomplimentary
But stakeholders have described his statement as uncomplimentary, coarse and uncalled for, while some clearly faulted his posturing as misplaced, ill informed, myopic and counterproductive; further noting that recourse to court for redress of perceived wrong is a legitimate right of stakeholders the CRFFN Chairman cannot wish away.
Reacting to Abubakar’s statements, a chieftain of ANLCA, Chief John Ofobike said it is not unlikely that the CRFFN Chairman is dancing to the tune of a piper from within as he asked rhetorically, “Should we say the man is playing to his pay master’s dictate? How can the chairman of a corporate agency say he is barring stakeholders from seeking legal redress? This is the first time l am hearing of this my brother.
“But we shall see, the death that awaits the dog doesn’t allow him to hear the owners call. In this industry, some people mayl carelessly dance themselves into jail”, he said.
Also commenting, Mr. Chidi Anthony Opara, RFF, FIIM, CDOA dismissed the position of the Council Chairman as erroneous and unenforceable. The former ANLCA National Officer stated that aggrieved members have the right to seek redress in court whenever they so desire.
He said, “The Nigeria constitution provides for the right of citizens to seek redress in court, if they are aggrieved. This right is fundamental and inalienable, meaning that it cannot be abrogated or abridged by any acts of parliament, executive orders, rules, regulations, etc.
“If, however any acts of Parliament, executive orders, rules, regulations, etc, make provisions for the abrogation or abridgement of this fundamental and inalienable right, such provisions would be inconsistent with the relevant provision of the constitution and such provisions would be null and void, to the extent of that inconsistency.
“Flowing from the above, citizens, even in regulated sectors/sub sectors can exercise this fundamental and inalienable right if they are aggrieved, in spite of any legislations, executive orders, rules, regulations, etc (inferior laws) to the contrary, but such citizens should endeavour to explore fully any apparatuses provided for settlement of disputes (if such apparatuses are not compromised).”