…As Stakeholders’ Puts Tsanni Abubakar On The Dock
BY GBOGBOWA GBOWA
Reactions have started to trail recommendation by the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) for the embattled, court sacked and ‘over-timed’ National President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Dr. Kayode Farinto to call an Annual General Meeting (AGM) of association members, in the bid to resolve the group’s crisis of over four years, resulting from leadership differences which has created two factions since December 2020.
While ANLCA’s registered Board of Trustees (BoT) led by Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha has kicked against the Council’s recommendation which it described as illegal, illogical and fraudulent, other stakeholders have called out the Chairman, Governing Council, Alhaji Tsanni Abubakar as a disappointment for reportedly playing the devil’s advocate, while ignoring the opinion of few honest members of the governing council, he allegedly conscripted to achieve above alleged fraudulent and predetermined narrow purpose.
CRFFN Governing Board Chairman, Tsanni Abubakar, had in a statement earlier Sunday, February 12, 2023 directed the Mustapha-led faction and the embattled National Executive Committee (NECOM) of ANLCA led by Kayode Farinto to set up a fresh BoT which would constitute four members from each side.
The statement signed by the Chairman, Committee on Media and Publicity of the Council, Mr Muftahu Ya”u, also ignored the insistence of the Mustapha faction that Dr. Kayode Farinto has ceased to be Acting National President, and while according him all the rights and privileges of the office, directed him to call for an Annual General Meeting (AGM) at a venue chosen by the CRFFN.
The statement reads: “Pursuant to Section 4(d) of the CRFFN ACT NO.16 Of 2007, which mandates the Council the general duty of “Regulating and Controlling all the Associations of Freight Forwarding Agents”, it became imperative for the Council to intervene in the affairs of any association at a time of crises where internal mechanisms to resolve the crises proves abortive.
“Prior to the last extra-ordinary emergency meeting held in Abuja on the 9th, February this year to resolve the crises, the Council had earlier applied and adopted many approaches and mechanisms, together with consultations with the aggrieved parties involved before arriving at the following resolutions.
1) That the Associations’s Annual General Meeting be convened immediately.
2) That the composition of the Board of Trustees of the Association be nine members.
3) That each of the two aggrieved parties shall nominate four (4) members to serve as their representatives on the Board of Trustees.
4) That the ninth member of the Board of Trustees be elected at the Annual General Meeting.
5) That the Council Chairman and the Acting Registrar will attend the Annual General Meeting to oversee the conduct of the Annual General Meeting.
6) That it is hoped that the aforementioned measures would help resolve the lingering crisis.
7) That the Annual General Meeting be convened at a venue to be provided by the Council.
“In light of the above, the Council Chairman Dr. Abubakar Tsanni has directed the Acting President of the Association, Dr. Kayode Farinto to convene an Annual General Meeting which should have in attendance all members of the Association on Thursday, 2nd March, 2023 by 11: am at Oriental Hotel Lagos.
“Finally, the Council once again, call on parties to eschew bitterness amongst each other and to embrace peace as the veritable tool for the attainment of the Association’s goals.
While describing Abubakar’s directive for Farinto to call the proposed AGM as illegal and bereft of logic, a source close the board who pleaded anonymous because he was not authorized to speak to the press, said the existence of a registered and legitimate BoT clearly render the CRFFN directive incompetent and inconsistent, illegal and unacceptable, and a whish-washy academic bravado.
“How can the resolution work? Does CRFFN have legitimacy over something legal? When there is an existing board by registration and law, can the CRFFN just make up its mind and say it want to dissolve it? It cannot work.
“Is it clear from all indications that the CRFFN Board Chairman is taking sides with Henry Njoku and Kayode Farinto? Remember the time given to the Reconciliation Committee to work and submit its report, what happened that Council did nothing until Henry Njoku and Farinto fixed an AGM they have no locus to convey and the registered BoT lawfully cancelled it, and Abubakar and the compromised governing council has rushed out to say they are interested in the matter, and that Kayode should fix an AGM. That is an insult.
“Let me tell you, Farinto in not in a position to call for an AGM, the NECOM hhe led in acting capacity has expired and the Board has since taking custody of ANLCA and all its affairs, and as such, only the board can call for an AGM.
“Is it not suspicious that rather than release the report of the reconciliation committee, they are talking about AGM? Ask them why they refused to release the report; it is because it was not favorable to Henry Njoku and Kayode Farinto.
“Let me also tell you sir, the CRFFN has no power to unseat a sitting board member, it is only the court of law that can. At the moment in the ANLCA Board, there are only two vacancies. Henry Njoku and Peter Obi are still living members of the board according to CAC status report. So, I don’t know where CRFFN got the numbers of four from this side and four from the other sides to serve as representatives on the BoT; it is fraudulent.”
Commenting, the registered Board appointed interim ANLCA National President, Mr. Pius Ujubuonu described the resolution as a script in support of the Governing Council Vice Chairman, Chief Henry Njoku, even as he summed up the statement as a major disservice to the in-house ongoing peace process.
“The thing they call report is a rehearsal of what Njoku had already pleaded in private, now in script. It is indeed a shame, no reference to investigation report, no recommendation for reconciliation for an enduring peace. He simply picked up his pen and wrote down what Henry Njoku dictated for him and shamelessly put it out to the public. What incompetence, by this the CRFFN has killed the fragile peace we were almost achieving.
Acting National publicity Secretary, Francis Ozimede Itua in a statement claimed that the CRFFN Resolution is morally, intellectually and logically deficient; and hence should be discountenanced by well meaning members of the association and the general public, at large.
The statement titled “THE RESOLUTION OF CRFFN ON ANLCA CRISIS” reads:
“In August 2022, the chairman CRFFN Alhaji Tsani Abubakar in his wisdom constituted a committee to mediate on the ANLCA crisis and promised to release the report within 7days which was greeted with a loud of applause from all stakeholders from both parties. However, 6 months to the constitution of the intervention committee chaired by Alhaji Abba Yusuf, the report was allegedly suppressed by the duo of Henry Njoku and Kayode farinto both members and perpetrators of the ANLCA crisis and also Vice President and member of CRFFN board respectively.
“For several month we have feelers that as long as Henry Njoku being the vice chairman of CRRFN and Kayode Farinto Board member, the report will never see the light of day, true to various predictions, the report of the chairman CRFFN promised to release within 7days took more than 7months to cooked a resolution, not even the report as promised within 7days.
“We agreed this is your resolution, probably to suit the whims and caprice of Henry Njoku, but we need the report as presided over by Alhaji Abba Yusuf to be released. We in ANLCA view this resolution of CRFFN as a total failure and managerial blunder of the governing Board, and the Chairman, Alhaji Tsani Abubakar’s failure, respectively, which will not be acceptable by all sane beings and also a departure from the pledge last year to resolve the ANLCA crisis.”
The statement continues: “On the other hand, we are highly disappointed that the CRFFN did not take congnisance of the following before their biased concocted resolution.
(1). That there are 7 active members of the board duly elected and recognized by CAC. As such nobody can remove them except in accordance to the ANLCA Suprême Constitution of 2008 as amended
(2). Police has written CAC to advice her who among the Board of trustees is active which report is expected any moment.
(3). That the Alhaji Afolabi led group are enmeshed in fraudulent judgements, forgery and impersonation at the CAC, while there are two pending court cases unresolved.
(4). That the CRFFN Have no legal right to dissolve a registered Board under any guise.
(5). By our constitution, the tenure of the president, and the acting president expired since on the 16th of April 2022 and as such the president nor the acting president have no right to call for an AGM meeting, it’s the right and duty of the Board in this circumstance to call for an AGM meeting
(6). Also it is the dutie of the Association Electoral Committee to conduct election into any electable position, therefore the Board cannot be selected at the AGM as conversed by the CRFFN.
(7). It is the duties of the BOARD to appoint ASECO the Association Electoral Committee and not the president, nor at the AGM. At the same time it is the duty of the Board to supervise all elections in the association.
(8). There are two vacant position at the Board, therefore the CRFFN resolution is wrong for the proposed appointment of four members from each faction to form the board, while 7active member duly recongnized by the CAC are active.
Finally, we the member of Association of Nigerian license Customs Agents under the leadership of Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha totally reject this concocted resolution of CRFFN under the chairmanship of Alhaji Tsanni Abubakar and and Vice Chairmanship of Henry Njoku for the following reasons:
“It is unfair to adjudicate on a matter one has substantial interest on like Henry Njoku and Kayode Farinto being member of the Board of CRFFN. And board member and acting president of ANLCA that took the resolution without stepping down for equity sake.
“Also the CRFFN as a party to the police reconciliation, should have waited for the police report, and also, non recognition of the power of the number of existing board of 5 against 2. We see this resolution as a further call for anarchy in ANLCA. However, The Chairman Board of Trustee Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha is appealing to all our teaming members to exercise restraint and to be law abiding, and to wait for the outcome of the various reconciliation committee including the court.”
Meanwhile, an outspoken and unapologetic former ANLCA National Officer and former member of CRF, Chidi Anthony Opara, RFF, FIIM, CDOA has raised fundamental posers for the CRFFN to answer, flowing from the Sunday’s statement that has sparked an outrage in the industry.
Opara’s statement with the theme ‘Issues Arising From The CRFFN Ordered ANLCA AGM’, picked holes in the directive which he thinks are in conflict with some legal realities; and demands an acceptable, explanations that is consistent with the directive, and its outcome.
The statement reads: “The Council For The Regulation Of Freight Forwarding In Nigeria(CRFFN), citing relevant portion of the Council’s establishment act (act 16 of 2007), which empowers it to regulate freight forwarding associations had on Sunday (12-2-2023), according to news media reports ordered a faction of the crisis ridden Association Of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) to call for its Annual General Meeting (AGM) latest by the first week of March, 2023 at a venue to be decided by it(CRFFN). CRFFN had been on the ANLCA crisis since 2022.
“A close look at the CRFFN order have thrown up a number of serious issues, which if not looked into and resolved, would become problematic, rendering whatever may be achieved at the AGM a nullity.
(1)The CRFFN asked the two factions to nominate four persons each to be ratified at the AGM as trustees. The ninth person, according to CRFFN would be elected at the AGM. Now this supposes that there is no ANLCA registered Board of Trustees (BOT) at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). If there is, owing to the fact that a faction is claiming to be the registered BOT, this board would be willing to resign, if not, how does CRFFN hope to reconcile this situation at the CAC after the AGM, when the necessity for documentation arises?
(2) Since CRFFN is asking a warring faction to call the AGM, would that fraction also chair and record proceedings at the AGM? If this is the case, would the other faction accept the outcome of an AGM called, chaired and its proceedings recorded by its rivals? Would individual stakeholders, governmental and non governmental organizations willingly accept the outcome of such AGM?
(3)Regulation provides that the Annual General Meetings of accredited associations must be observed by CRFFN(management) officials, so what would be the legitimacy of an Annual General Meeting observed by an “Acting Registrar” or officials assigned by that position, a position not known to the CRFFN establishment act.
Opara concluded by saying “The CRFFN should do well to resolve the above-mentioned issues prior to the AGM.”