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ANLCA: Dissolution of A Sit-Tight NECOM And Infantile Kicks of The Mob Merchants

BY EGUONO ODJEGBA

Following the dissolution of the National Executive Committee (NECOM) of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) few days ago by the Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha led Board of Trustees (BoT), the  predictable, combative erstwhile acting National President, Dr. Kayode Farinto said the BoT has no powers under the ANLCA Constitution to do so.

A dramatic fellow with an alleged overdose of inordinate ambition, and one according to members with immeasurable disregard for decorum, rules and laws, Farinto said neither the BoT nor Mustapha should be taken serious; claiming that the action was designed to embarrass ANLCA and to create disaffection.

Farinto has been Vice President of ANLCA since April 2018, in 2019 he received query from the National President, Iju Tony Nwabunike for alleged gross official misconduct, adjudged embarrassing to the leadership of the association. After a letter of apology, he worked with his boss under a perceived cold shoulders and mutual suspicion, until Nwabunike absconded from office under the guise of going for further studies oversea.

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Said to possess an uncanny power of getting whatever he wanted, Farinto received a letter of transmission of power from Nwabunike to take over the leadership of ANLCA in 2021 leading to the completion of their joint tenure last year.

Vide what members described as rabble rousing tactics, Farinto secured six months and thereafter, three more months’ tenure extension consecutively; and was believed to have been engaged in yet another gangster tenure extension plot before the BoT moved against him.

Finely schooled and very knowledgeable, there is no shadow of doubt that Farinto understands the dynamics of powers any less he understands the rules and the limits of the game; such that no one else can claim to understand the current mischief  he is said to be currently involved in, in order to hang onto power, more than himself; except that majority well meaning members of the association have resolved to stop him, by meeting him half way through his current plot; seemingly  determined to match him wit for wit, relying  exclusively on the rule of law.

Pursuant to the above, and flowing from concerns by majority members, that Farinto and his backers are unwilling to give peace a chance for the growth and progress of ANLCA, the BoT hitherto inundated with calls to do something, was minded to step, and the rest as they say is history; as the expired NECOM has been shown the way out and a sole administrator appointed to run the association’s affairs and national secretariat on behalf of the BoT, pending when elections are conducted and a new NECOM is constituted within the next three months.

The hissing and venom and abuse by the sacked sit-tight NECOM is not unexpected as a logical reaction, as the majority of members  seem prepared to give it whatever is was worth to keep the expired NECOM out, once and for all. Chieftains of the associations say characters whose stock in trade is the continuous resort to lawlessness and impunity vide propaganda and threats; no longer have a place in the association.

To them, it was not surprising at all that Farinto threw up the purported resolution of a kangaroo National Executive Committee (NEC) Meeting he and his backers and their combined hirelings claimed to have held at Rockview Hotel, Wuse 2, Abuja on 12th July, 2023, and in which the tenure of the so-called NECOM was said to have been extended by three months. They say they will match him action for action, and urged him to comport himself and take his sack in good stride.

To make himself happy, Farinto described the NEC meeting as a fruitful one, and even mentioned that the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) and its controversial Registrar, Mrs. Chinyere Uromta was said to have been present from the beginning until the end, as though it was not already public knowledge that his main backer, Chief Henry Njoku, is believed through some unethical means, to have so far led the CRFFN leadership by its nose.

And then, as the last joker with a blackmail ace card, he trumpeted the fact of Mustapha’s representation at the so-called NEC meeting, he fancy he could deploy as the ultimate win card.

“Taiwo Mustapha sent a letter in which he sent his apology and regretted his absence. His letter was read on his behalf by Prince Ozo Chukwura. So, technically, Taiwo Mustapha participated in the NEC.”

Impudently as it is the case with few political mavericks, he boasted he presided over the meeting, inadvertently blowing his own cover for been in charge of the same meeting to decide on the forthcoming elections amongst other things, in which he was an interested party.

He said, “NEC considered the letter from Association Electoral Committee (ASECO) demanding for at least 30 days to enable her conduct a credible election.

“In line with that, Dr. Uche Ohaegbuchulam, ANLCA Chairman, Calabar Chapter, supported by Alhaji Abdulrasheed, the Chairman of Kano Chapter moved a motion that the tenure of the present NECOM should be extended by another three months. There was no counter from any NEC members present and consequently, it was resolved that the tenure of the EXCO will now expire on the 16th day of October, 2023.”

Still gloating, he said, “The letter from Customs Consultative Council intimating NEC of a Peace and Reconciliation Committee on ANLCA crisis that the Council has constituted, a committee which will sit at the Conference Hall of Transcorp Hilton on the 19th July, 2023 to look into ANLCA crisis. Their terms of reference are to find lasting peace in ANLCA. NEC considered the letter from the Council signed by Aare Akeem Olarenwaju and unanimously agreed to cooperate with the Council to assist the process.

“I am aware that Taiwo Mustapha has been briefed on the outcome of the Meeting by Prince Ozo Chukwura. I am surprised that Taiwo Mustapha allegedly took out the Press Statement which purportedly dissolved NECOM. He has no such powers to do so and he should not be taken seriously.”

After declaring in the statement that the  NECOM led by him is still in control, he said “ Finally, it is necessary to emphasize and inform the general public that NEC is the highest decision making organ of ANLCA hence its decision is not only sacrosanct but binding on all genuine members of our association.”

After all said and done, it is also necessary to interrogate what lawfully constitute the NEC and what defines NEC’s legitimate sessions, so that we don’t get carried away with twisted versions and fallacious posturing.

From the association’s archive, the NEC comprise ONLY of BOT and NECON members, even as the later  comprise the national and zonal officers, chapter chairmen along with their secretary, treasurer and financial secretary;  and invited ex officio.

Compare the above legal composition with the gathering of the strange bed fellows (who were at best committee of friends) at the said Abuja NEC meeting. Interestingly, feelers indicate that  at the said NEC meeting  were  2 out of the 8 CRFFN ratified board members, a patron, 3 NECON officers out of 9 and many other none qualify NEC members.

Truth is, the Abuja NEC was an orchestra put together to entertain certain puppets and their puppeteers, and such, was not expected or could not have taken any informed or biding decisions on behalf of the members of the association. Any such claim is at best fraudulent and hence whatever purported decisions said to have been taken at the illegal NEC meeting, is a fiasco and of no effect.

It is instructive that this also addresses the biases and infantile deconstruction of the truth by some paid agents provocateurs manifesting through sponsored, flawed editorials and news articles; that have also been planted in other channels of social communication.

It is said that it is only in Nigeria that the mad man calls the sane person, mad; same way the patently corrupt and merchants of violence ascribes terror to patriots and those that are peace loving.

Looking back at the ANLCA debacle, Nigerians can judge for themselves who have been the trouble provocateurs, character mudslingers and destroyers of legacy sanctions; who with the cover of night commits abominable acts of arson, and by day, engage in pretended cries; even as they plot the next evil.

With the benefit of hindsight, it is clear to all discerning Nigerians that the intervention of CRFFN in the ANLCA crisis has been founded on dubious scale of shameless partiality. One wonders how the Chairman of the Governing Council, Alhaji Tsanni Abubakar is able to sleep at night, given his unhidden preconceived prejudices.

That he even reached out to his former boss and former Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon Chibuike Amaechi  to intervene shows his audacity to attempt to arm twist members of the registered BoT into a what Joe Sanni, an outspoken member of ANLC A calls oluwole (rickety) peace agreement.

Ababakar and his friends apparently subjected the then Chairman BoT, Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha to a horrendous emotional blackmail, under which he was inadvertently prevailed upon to join in the illegal Annual General Meeting (AGM) Abubakar organized at the Eko Hotels and Suites; and where according to plans, he (Abubakar) and others working to extrapolate  plots of through deceit and unethical circumstances, reportedly held Mustapha hostage and made him to endorse their illegalities that culminated in the trumped up 8-man new BoT.

In sane climes, such emotional hostage issues are seriously frowned at, and to think that Amaechi’s name is still been bandied around and ricocheting the arm twist and fraud is past human comprehension.  In effect, it was and still remains clear to all men of conscience that the Eko Hotel gang meeting in which two innocent stakeholders were held against their will remains an abhorrent act that this nation may have cause to revisit.

It is noteworthy that Mustapha has since that unfortunate incident stuck out his neck to see how best the flawed agreements can be revisited, refined and repackaged for the acceptance of all concerned.

Unfortunately, the merchants of chaos and drivers of impunity in the system have made it a personal pledge not to allow genuine peace reign, such that they may be able to have their way in orchestrating a fraud prone election designed to throw up their preferred candidate as winner.

It has become clear what their plans for the elections are; which is that thereafter, with arrogant refrain, they will tell the peace loving opponents and well meaning members of the association to go to court if they feel dissatisfied.

It will be recalled that recently, Farinto boasted that he has all it takes to get ASECO declare him winner of the presidential election. In an interview with Marine & Economy online newsmagazine,  he said is sure of victory when the polls eventually  takes place.

The newspaper report “He said  the issue is that some people have the fear of the unknown pointing out that  if I had wanted to  conduct the elections by 4 am , as he  learnt a  President once did , he would have done so,  adding that , he rather wants to be fair to all, and wants a credible election.”

From the above, the theatrics of vaulting supposition reign supreme as Farinto equates himself with ASECO (the Association Electoral Committee) and indeed with the laws of ANLCA, as expressly contained in the sentence “if I had wanted to conduct the elections by 4 am, as a President once did, he would have done so, he rather wants to be fair to all, and wants a credible election.”

In this regard, it was not unexpected when the voice of Prince Ozo Chukurah, believed to have been battling with image issues in his membership of the association’s controversial boards, rang out hissing.  His latest hassle following the ouster of his godfather and political colleague carried the full bile of a cornered spoiler.

In an interview with an online newspaper, Chukurah obviously rattled, described the sack of NECOM and the takeover of the administration of the affairs of ANLCA by the BoT as fake news.

He said: “I have read with dismay the alleged dissolution of the National Executive Committee of ANLCA in social media. That the ANLCA family and the general public should consider the news as fake and from an unauthorized channel from the Board of Trustees of ANLCA.

“Taiwo Mustapha who purportedly released the Press Statement gave me a letter addressed to NEC which I read on his behalf at the Emergency NEC Meeting held at Rockview Hotel, Abuja on Wednesday the 12th day of July, 2023.”

He labeled Mustapha a troublemaker and as one that is incapable of being the chairman of ANLCA BOT, even as he claimed that Mustapha is not a member of the BoT of ANLCA much less the chairman, as he struggled to play up his own court nullified BoT which was knocked together at the Owerri 2020 alleged illegal AGM.

History is replete with the sounds of fury from drowning gangsters, and how some had held on firmly to any strand of straw in the bid to remain afloat. In the process, some have been known to have grabbed serpents they inadvertently had nurtured for evil purposes.

While it is very true that the NEC is the highest administrative organ in ANLCA, nonetheless, it bears repeating that the NEC is legitimate to the extent that any NEC meeting is properly constituted in strict accordance with the association’s constitutional guidelines.

In the same vein, the BoT takeover of the affairs of ANLCA in the event of irreconcilable disagreements and or inability to drive a succession change is constitutionally provided for; contrary to the deceitful position of Farinto.

Efforts to seek clarification from the customs service on the development was however unsuccessful, as the Customs National Public Relations Officer, SC Maiwada Aliyu who was contacted by our reporter said he would call back as soon as he gets clarifcation.

A purported Customs Consultative Committee saddled with the task of resolving the crisis reportedly said the Office of the National Security Adviser is on the same page with the Customs Service, with alleged plans to proscribe the association to foreclose any disturbances to the port industry.

Aliyu has yet to call back before, two days after, before going to press.

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