ANLCA Crisis: Alagbon Police’s Emotional Involvement
BY EGUONO ODJEGBA
There are indications that the warring leaders of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) are sincerely committed to achieving an amicable settlement of the crisis that has engulfed the association for more than four years.
In a rare display of peace overture, representatives of the warring factions on behalf of themselves and their respective groups, made public declarations to sheath the sword and work together to get the association out of the wood. The photographs from that meeting, with the gladiators hemmed together like brothers, smiling and hugging one another was for some of us the greatest sight to behold in the nation’s port industry in the past five years.
All stakeholders of goodwill should be seen to support this beautiful initiative and to encourage them to succeed, especially against the backdrop of intelligence that the warring factions are now war weary and want and end. At this point, nobody should be seeing to be sitting on the fence, lest fifth columnists and undertakers perceived to be active and plotting gets a foothold to derail the promising peace process .
One of such critical stakeholder is the Nigerian Police. While it may sound simplistic to say that the Nigerian Police have been involved in the crisis at every crucial point, truth is, the police is perceived to have played the spoiler at certain stages, and lending itself to widening the gulf.
There is a school of thought that believes that the police has been a major beneficiary of the crisis, as different police authorities are always handy to offer a shoulder of consolation to any of the factions that comes ‘crying’.
Either as a protector of the law or peace facilitator, the police has regularly played host to both factions, too many a time to be able to give count, and yet, the crisis has festered. It must be recgonised also that despite whatever public misgivings there may be, credit must be given to certain persons and specific offices within the police organization, who have stood out in an honest desire to see the crisis resolved.
Sadly, for obvious reasons, the crisis has dragged, just as much as the police have played different roles; perceived by stakeholders and observers, as seemingly good and also seemingly bad. In particular, the police appeared to have hobnobbed both sides, often provide police protection for this or that faction; in an interchangeable variation.
While it must again be acknowledged that some individual within the police management hierarchy has volunteered to broker peace, none has achieved purposeful break, whilst the status quo ante of each faction has often been reverted to.
Most importantly, the police have always been handy for shutting down and or else, unsealing the ANLCA National Secretariat located at Amuwo-Odofin Industrial Estate, Lagos; previously sealed by different departments and jurisdiction of the police.
While it would seem that the more the police gets involved, the more intractable the crisis has become, there are suppositions that some of the association’s big wigs involved in the crisis have police friends, providing them with biased services and thus effectively constituting stumbling block on the way of reconciliation.
Incidentally, it would also seem that some gladiators who has friends inside the police organization, with sincere desire to help, sooner gets tired and makes unceremonious retreat; leaving the crisis to fester. The police should not been perceived as playing double standard, where it is perceived to support peace in the open and suspected to play the spoiler behind the curtain, through entertaining frivolous petitions and through which it carries out actions that are diametrically opposed to the advancement of the peace processes.
It shall be the duty of the police not only to interrogate any petition related to ANLCA at this crucial period, but in addition, it shall be the police duty to ensure that it does not lend itself to engage in duplicitous administration of petitions associated with this particular group, for which the police’s moral standing, currently, hangs precipitously.
The police must rescue itself from the ANLCA crisis, once and for all, while the factions must espouse moral restraints, and seek to build on their last positive engagement, incidentally, at the Area E Command of the Nigeria Police.
There is a saying that true love is severe, and hence speaks the hard truths that often sound disagreeable to those who do not wish for the truth to prevail. At this point, that is the duty of the police, it should be firm in stating the facts and affirming what is true and wrong.
Without apportioning blame, and considering that all the contenders are ‘family’, it should not be difficult to ask that the duplicate Board of Trustees (BoT) led by billionaire industrialist, Dr. Taiwo Afolabi , should show fidelity in their reported resolve to give up their side.
In the same vein and in the spirit of chivalry and reconciliation, the embattled but authentic BoT led by Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha should fulfill its reported pledge to incorporate an agreed number of four from the other side to join its five or whatever formula they deem proper to give the present boost a further push.
At this stage, the warring personages should consider it a wishful thinking that big money can effortlessly turn the tide. It is not that simple, in clear matters of constitutionality, money can only buy time and not necessarily kill a case.
As of today, the Alhaji Mustapha led BoT remain the authentic and legitimate board. Perhaps those crying with their eyes closed should make effort to open them and clear up their tears so that they can see the facts as they are.
A status report of the board contained in the register of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), shows clearly that the Mustapha led side is the recognized lawful board, registered on March 25, 2001; with registration number 6754. The status report released by the CAC earlier this week on January 23, 2023 and sighted by this reporter was duly signed by the CAC Registrar General, AG Abubakar .
The incorporated trustees are Prince Taiye Oyeniyi, Alhaji Aare Sanni Shittu, Chief Henry Njoku, Chief Peter Obi, Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha, Chief Dennis Okafor, Chief Sir Ernest Elochukwu, and Mr. Dayo Azeez.
Whilst Alhaji Mustapha and the majority of the agreeable board members and supporters must be commended highly for his matured disposition to peace process for a long time already, the Dr. Afolabi factional board and the indefatigable duo of Dr. Kayode Farinto and Abdulazeez Mukaila, the last men standing, should also be recognized for their long suffering claims.
Above all, their resolution to kill the shame and come back together, and their mutual agreement to set aside the December 2020 Owerri controversial constitution amendment and resolve to work with the 2008 edition used in swearing-in the Tony Iju Nwabunike’s administration, is comely.
Friends of ANLCA and other stakeholders should encourage this development by helping to sustain the traction of engagement towards final settlement. There should be concerted efforts to shut down enemies and dissenting voices, including ulterior nuances from within or without, seeking to truncate the various agreements already reached.
It is for this reason the police should be condemned for raiding the residence of Prince Oyeniyi, the Board Secretary, even after the publicly acknowledged resolution to kill the fight and to reunite.
Is the intention to keep Oyeniyi away while the ASECO election jointly agreed upon by both faction to hold soon, is taking place? Although the Board Secretary has relayed assurances by Dr. Farinto that the action was regrettable, purportedly based on a pending petition over the October 2022 attack at Tin Can Island Port Chapter Secretariat; one can only hope that such occurrence is not allowed to take place, anymore.
While Prince Oyeniyi’s assurance that the AIG Maritime Command has waded into the matter is heartwarming, one would expect that at this stage the police must excuse itself from the ANLCA debacle; if it cannot deploy decorum under the circumstances.
It is a beautiful start that both factions have agreed that each camp should field specified number of persons to make up the ASECO; same for the BoT; with a view to convoking an Annual General Meeting (AGM), ahead of NECOM election. One feels a strong desire to seek out the gladiators and to hug them, for finally coming to terms.
While we pray for all that has been planned should fall in successfully and timely, they must hit the ground running for the full recovery of the grounds ANLCA has missed.
Alhaji Abdulazeez Mukaila has reportedly said that all suggestions that have been made during the peace meeting would be ratified at the upcoming AGM. The industry looks forward to this crucial engagement, and look forward more for the full recovery of ANLCA.
The industry cannot wait to see Farinto hitting a ride with Pius Ejibuono, or Joe Sanni sharing bottles of beer with Ozo Chukwura, and the resumption of social gathering after close of work at the National Secretariat by all and sundry.