ANLCA Crisis: Beware of Conflicting Directives, Odutan Tells IGP
Says Reconciliation With NECOM Overtaken By Events
BY EGUONO ODJEGBA
A chieftain of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Prince Segun Odutan has appealed to the Nigeria Police Authority and the Inspector General of Police (IGP) in particular to beware of the antics of criminal elements within the association parading fraudulent claims everywhere, to avoid being misled into providing cover for those on the wrong side of the law.
In a chat with select maritime journalists in his office weekend, Odutan expressed worry that the office of the IGP is giving conflicting directives in respect of the ANLCA crisis, and urged the police boss to scrutinize documented claims by the immediate past National Executive Committee (NECOM) of ANLCA, in addition to ensuring that delegated authorities are also not scammed into providing protection for those in violation of the law, seeking to perpetuate themselves in office via criminal grandstanding.
This is even as the former ANLCA Tin Can Island Chapter chairman dismissed the prospect of future reconciliatory moves by members of the association with the NECOM, noting that whilst the Board of Trustees (BoT) intensified efforts to achieve amicable resolution to the crisis, it was repeatedly repudiated by the NECOM, until the latter’s take-off terminal period expired; declaring that talks of further reconciliation has been overtaking by events.
On apprehension that the police authority are unwittingly providing cover for those he described as outcasts and illegal occupants of ANLCA’s national offices and secretariat, Odutan argued that the reported out gone NECOM no longer possess any locus to be granted attention by the police.
He said, “There have been some conflicting directives from the IGP’s office over this matter. We are appealing to him to remain on the side of the law, because he knows about this case, even before becoming the number one policeman.
“Now there are conflicting directives by the police, maybe because of delegation of authority, because even in my office if l give power to some people and they use my letterhead for the wrong things, the public will assume l am the one.
“Somebody who can collect fraudulent judgment from the court can as well deploy the IGP’s letterhead for wrong purposes, including misleading an AIG or State Police Commissioner.
“We have been to AIG Zone 2, have gone to Alagbon, and everywhere over this crisis, so we want the IGP to look inward, and ensure that all police formation are properly briefed about ANLCA’s case; they should look into the case genuinely and professionally. Let the police be aware that those judgments the expired NECOM is parading around are fraudulent.”
He continued: “The police should also be aware that inspite of the fraudulent Abeokuta High Court ruling that purport to allow them remain in office, the NECOM’s tenure has expired, and they want to mislead the judiciary and police to support unconstitutionality.
“Take for instance the board represented in the Abeokuta court, is it our board which is the registered one or their illegal board? So there has been so much misrepresentation and the police need to know the truth.”
The ANLCA chieftain affirmed that while the BoT and well meaning members of the association were committed to resolving the issue, the embattled NECOM sabotaged every gesture, until the matter become statute barred, following the expiration of the NECOM’s tenure.
He also admitted that it is not unexpected that a big association like ANLCA could have internal crisis, noting that if the former national leaders have availed themselves to dispute resolution initiatives within and without, the crisis would have long be settled.
“ANLCA is one big family and there is bound to be disagreement, but at a point in time, we still have to come back and start relating as a family. But you can see now that some people out of that large family do not want settlement, rather they want to become a kingdom to themselves, and this is the problem. The issue of association becomes bad when you allow self interest to override the general interest.
“When we met at the peace meeting with the Commissioner of Police, all the leaders were there and they all spoke, but I can tell you categorically that nothing has been done, there is a stalemate, and we are still at the same spot. The NECOM is time bared right now for any reconciliation with the registered Board of Trustees (BOT). I am a critical stakeholder, am not a board member, but the time they have to negotiate with NECOM is time bared, right now.”
Reminded that the NECOM announced a constitution amendment that allows it to remain in office till 2023, Odutan dismissed the purported amendment as unlawful, and therefore null and void.
“That constitution amendment was dead on arrival. As of the time they went for that amendment, who and who was involved? There is a procedure in place for constitution amendment in ANLCA, let them come and tell us who and who were present in that meeting.
“As at the time they sat for that meeting, they have been sacked by a Federal High Court, which directed them to stop parading themselves as National officers, the matter was not vacated.”
He lamented that the NECOM is presently an empty organ with majority of the elected members having left, either incognito or due to the exigencies of lawful consideration.
“As at the time we did the election that brought the NECOM into office, there were nine of them, but right now, it is only two people that are left. Some left immediately the court ruled they should stop parading themselves in office, even the president has left; he said that he is going for further studies when his house is on fire.
“The only people left right now are Kayode Farinto and Babatunde Mukaila, if you talk of Bola Muse, she is with Barge Operators today, WILMA Nigeria tomorrow, WILAT the day after; so, they are just two people remaining.”
Prince Odutan also refused to join the Chairman of SIFAX Group, Dr Taiwo Afolabi, in the controversy, noting that Afolabi has nothing to do with the crisis, and blamed those he referred to as desperados as responsible for dropping his name in the attempt to curry undue attention.
“Leave Dr Afolabi out of this, he is a respectable stakeholder in this industry, he has told them that he is not interested in the illegal ANLCA Board, that he is only interested in an environment where everybody can operate in peace. He has not come out since the crisis started to state that he is chairman of ANLCA board.”
This is even as he lambasted Chief Ozo Chukwura for purportedly allowing himself to be used as a destabilizing agent.
“I have told the other person, Ozo Chukwura who is my good friend that the only problem he has is not been consistent. I said to him, you are not consistent in this association, you have served as a chairman in this association and served as zonal coordinator, if by tomorrow they are nominating you into the board, yes it is good. But don’t try to come in through the window. Let them bring you in through the normal process.”
He said any day Chukwura and his gang dare to deploy the official letterhead of ANLCA Board, is the day they will regret their actions so far.
“Which Board are they talking about? Tell them today to do a letter headed paper, sign as board and communicate to the public, let Ozo Chukwura do a letter and sign as Vice chairman of the board; they will now see real action, our judiciary is still active.”
Odutan said he cannot answer why the Board failed to put in place an administrative structure to take over the affairs of the association and the national secretariat the moment the embattled NECOM’s tenure elapsed, based on their insistence that the office wounded up on April 16, 2022.
He however averred that the BoT is not sleeping and is disposed to every lawful initiative to recover and refocus the leadership structure of ANLCA.
“Like I said, the BOT would take its decision as at when due and in a lawful way, everything is aground right now. Out of nine NECOM members, only two people are left, some have handed over since the courts asked them to stop parading themselves in office. It is an issue for the board, and I cannot speak for the board. I think they have their own way and approach which they want to follow on this issue.
“Our board members are respected leaders in this industry, they are taking these issues in sequence, when the time of the NECOM expired on 16th of April, it coincided with the Muslim fasting and Hajj…there is a lot to it.”