ANLCA Exco Finger Ojo In Tin-Can Island Port Attack
As Confusion Surrounds True Identity of Injured Man
BY GBOGBOWA GBOWA
The interim national leaders of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has identified the Tin Can Island Port factional chapter chairman, Mr. Ojo Akintoye as the man that led and supervised last Thursday’s attack by urchins within the Nigerian Ports Complex, where ANLCA chapter office is located.
The attack said to have been targeted at both the national leaders and members of the association created pandemonium as the hoodlums said to have been hired by Ojo ran amok at the complex attacking everybody in sight; leading to a machete cut on one person identified as Mr. Wale Cole.
Meanwhile the occupational identity of Cole has began to generate dust as the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) claimed he is their member and head of the Tin Can Island District, while ANLCA say Wale Cole is their member, adding that he has been participating in the association’s political activities, and as an active member of the illegal Board of Trustees (BoT) led by Dr. Taiwo Afolabi.
Acting Publicity Secretary of ANLCA, Mr. Francis Itua who claimed that Mr Ojo Akintoye was the one that led the attack to disrupt the association’s meeting that started barely few minutes after commencement, further noted that it was the self same Ojo that led the June 2021 attack on the Tin Can Chapter Secretariat, which also left a member, Mr. Adetunji Olasunkomi fatally wounded .
Speaking further on the latest attack, Itua explained that the the Police Area Commander, Area B, who stormed the venue by providence saw for himself how Mr. Akintoye was allegedly giving orders to the hoodlums on who and where to attack.
Narrating the incident, he said “What happened on that very day was that, we were set to have our maiden meeting of the Western Zone, just to brief our members. A lot of our members are suffering, nothing works in the port, every time we submit our jobs, we always get alerts from customs.
“We were trying to tell our members to have patience, so that immediately the issues are resolved, especially that of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) issuing certificate to another BOT.
“Also on the issue of port access road construction which is under construction, our members are suffering; they cannot take their cargoes out of the port and they cannot access the port. These are the issues we wanted to highlight and inform them that we have not abandoned them
“All the stage were set, two of our BOT members were in attendance, I was the Master of Ceremony, and as I was calling invitees to the high table, I just saw that the canopy was removed, there were about twenty thugs who stormed the venue, wielding charms and sticks, they started attacking everybody.
“We all scampered and ran into the Secretariat and locked ourselves in. All the soft drinks and water we intended to serve our guests, they carted them away, shouting slogans and causing all sorts of mayhem around the area.”
Itua said the interim national leaders had written formally to inform the Nigerian Police about the meeting and that some police officers were deployed to the venue, lamenting however that the three armed police men were rendered inactive and helpless during the mayhem. Our reporter sighted a copy of the acknowledged letter written to the police.
“We wrote a letter to the Commissioner of Police, Area Commander, DPO and all the letters were received and acknowledged, just for them to protect us because we don’t want to seek self help. The police authority gave us three armed policemen and they were all overpowered and looking helpless.
“Immediately, we put a call across to the Area Commander and in fairness to him, he came over and saw Ojo Akintoye giving command to the thugs “Attack, Kill, the DPO accosted him and questioned why he was doing that”, he said
Recall that factional Acting President of the association, Mr Farinto Kayode a day after the fracas alleged that the Interim NECOM violated a directive from the police for all members to maintain status quo ante, until all contending issues are resolved.
In fact, Farinto had accused the Police of being biased and giving the Interim NECOM protection to carry out their activities unhindered; even as he further accused the law abiding registered Board of Trustees (B0T) and its interim NECOM of planning and executing the attack.
He reportedly said, “We learnt from the grapevine that one Taiye Oyeniyi and Mojeed Olomola sponsored the thugs. It’s unfortunate that Police is not playing a very good role in the crisis of ANLCA, because even Police that said we should maintain status quo ante, which we respected and we have refused to call a meeting in the western zone.
“But we now find a situation where Police is always giving the other party cover up knowing full well that we have a certificate from the CAC registering the new BoT.”
Itua has since debunked Farinto’s claims, including saying that the the Tin Can Chapter factional chairman, Mr. Ojo Akintoye has been holding similar meetings at Tin Can Port, on a weekly basis.
“The police never asked us to maintain status quo, Ojo himself have been holding same meetings in that Tin Can and nobody disturbs him, he does it almost every week. It is just because our members are larger than theirs, this was why we rented canopies.
Itua explained that the arrest of the legitimate Tin Can Island Chapter Chairman, Mojeed has been said to be in view of the injuries sustained by Wale Cole, and that the AIG said he cannot be granted bail while Wale Cole is still in comma. Clearing the air on the position of Wale Cole, the interim national spokesman explained Cole was part of the squad that unleashed the mayhem.
“Wale Cole participated actively in helping those hoodlums to attack us, none of our member prepared for any self help, they, being the hunter are now trying to turn the allegations against the hunted.”
Also commenting on the development, Secretary of the BoT, Prince Taiye Oyeniyi said to have been invited to grace the occasion noted he may have been the real target of the attack.
He said “I don’t believe in press wars, all along, the meeting was documented, all of us were invitees after the Police have been informed.
“How can we organize a meeting and still sponsor thugs to come and destroy the place? It is clear, the police were there, you can go to the Area Commander and find out.”
Adeniyi intimated that the fake BoT Certificate been paraded by the Taiwo Afolabi faction has been challenged and going through scrutiny.
“The Corporate Affairs Commission is working seriously on the fake certificate they (other faction) have been circulating, as soon as this is sorted out, we would be able to tag them as criminals.
“It was Ojo Akintoye that led the thugs that unleashed that attack, but because people are in police custody, we don’t want to talk about it. We believe that no matter what it is, somebody was injured and we need to be concerned” he said.
The meeting was the first general meeting being organized by the interim NECOM which was fixed for Tin Can Island Port since its National Secretariat at Amuwo Odofin has been locked up by the Nigerian Police.
Meanwhile, the Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG Maritime) has since Thursday arrested the two Chairmen at Tin Can Island Port; Alhaji Mohammed Mojeed and Ojo Akintoye, and both are believed to still been in police custody as at yesterday.
It will be recalled that the leadership of the Maritime Workers Unioon of Nigeria (MWUN), had weekend staged a public protest at the Tin Can Port Complex to denounce attack on its members allegedly by a faction of the feuding association.
MWUN pointedly claimed that Wale Cole was its member, noting Cole is the MWUN Chairman of the Barge Operations. The MWUN National President, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju who described the attack as barbaric and unbecoming, warned that the union will not hesitate to pull its members out of the ports and protect them against future attacks if nothing decisive is done about the ugly attack at the Tin Can Port.
He urged the relevant agencies of government to ensure that the activities of customs agencts is regulated against the background of the ugly recurring decimal.
“There is no how we can continue with this barbaric act where associations are using hoodlums to attack port users. If they had killed the man, that will be the end of his career.
“This is a signal and the last warning to those hiring hoodlums to attack port workers. They should not toil with us because we won’t allow anybody from outside to come and attack responsible port users who have business to do in the port.
“The law permits freedom of association, but when their activities is becoming too extreme and endangering other people’s lives, then, the government needs to come in. The government should also intensify efforts to see how they will regulate the activities of the freight forwarding associations because it is no longer the profession we know, it has changed to where one faction will hire hoodlums to attack another faction and other port users.
“If the insecurity currently taking place in the port is not well managed, I don’t know where the management of NPA will find themselves. This is a signal that all is not well in terms of security in the port where the police have to run for their dear lives as a result of what happened on Thursday at the Tin Can Island port,” he said.
Adeyanju also called on immediate past President of the Association, Prince Olayiwola Shittu and other founding fathers of ANLCA to wade into the leadership crisis rocking the association in the past four years and restore its lost glory.