As chapter elections held at night despite court ruling
The over two years crisis rocking the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) took yet a major nosedive Tuesday, as its National Executive Committee(NECOM), conducted elections into some chapters of the association in the western zone.
Above development is in spite of a court ruling which forbade NECOM to conduct any chapter election in the zone, in addition to barring NECOM from carrying out any official activities as the court further commanded it to stop parading itself in office.
Mr. John Offobike, court suspended Coordinator of Western Zone and current interim Administrator of Western Zone, said yesterday that election was held “at about 10pm after the police invited them to write an undertaking to obey the current court rulings.”
Court suspended erstwhile National Publicity Secretary of ANLCA, Joe Sanni, told our reporter earlier on Tuesday that based on rumour that NECOM was planning to conduct election into the Western Zone chapters despite a NEW INJUNCTION was obtained from the Lagos High Court Badagry. He explained that based on the fresh court ruling, the Registered Board of Trustees (BOT) approached the Festac Town Police Area Commander, ACP Halilu Muawiya, to urge him to do the needful.
A certified copy of the ruling sighted by our reporter indicated that the presiding judge, Hon. Justice E.O Ogundare showed that the Chairman of Seme Border Chapter of ANLCA, Alhaji Lasisi Fanu Bisiriyu and three others, has approached the Lagos High Court to grant them interim injunction barring NECOM, led by ANLCA National President, Tony Iju Nwabunike, from conducting election into any chapter in the Western Zone.
Whereas Bisiriyu filled the application with Suit No BD/3134GCM/2019 at the Badagry High Court Registry on the 11th day of February, 2021; the injunction was granted on February 16th, 2021, a development that invalidates NECOM from carrying out any official business, pending the determination of the suit fixed for March 4, 2021.
The suit listed the Registered Trustees of ANLCA, MAC-TONNEL NIGERIA LIMITED, National President, Tony Iju Nwabunike, MIKHAILA BABATUNDE, HAJIA BOLA MUSE, UCHE MARTINS, JOSHUA AHUAMA, OLUWASEGUN ALABI, Solomon J. Nnamocha, and eleven others as defendants.
The judgment reads in part: “AN ORDER OF INTERIM INUJUNCTION IS HEREBY MADE restraining the 2nd -20th Respondents either by themselves or through their agents, privies or whosoever called from conducting any election into any elective office (s) in the Seme-Border Chapter, Murtala Mohammed International Airport Chapter and any of the Eight (8) Chapters within the Western Zone of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) pending the determination of the substantive suit before this Honourable Court.
“AN ORDER OF INTERIM INJUNCTION IS HEREBY ALSO MADE restraining the 2nd -20th Respondents either by themselves or through their agents, privies or whosoever from taking any step(s) or making any attempt to commence any process for the purpose of conducting any election in the Applicant’s Chapters and within the other Chapters within the Western Zone of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) either in February, 2021 or any other time, day, month or year pending the determination of the substantive suit before this Honourable Court.
“AN ORDER OF INTERIM INUJUNCTION IS HEREBY FURTHER MADE restraining the 2nd -20th Respondents either by themselves or through their agents, privies or whosoever from parading, misrepresenting themselves or threatening the life or the elective position of the Applicants/Claimants in any way(s) or manners either as administration, caretakers, headship or in whatever name(s) to any of the Eight (8) Chapters within the Western Zone of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) pending the determination of the substantive suit before this Honourable Court.”
To ensure that the court order is not flouted, the court further ruled:
“IT IS ADDITIONALLY ORDERED that the Assistant Inspector General of Police, Zone 2, Onikan, Lagos state and/or the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Police Command, Ikeja, Lagos is directed to take necessary action against the 2nd -20th Respondents and any other person(s) who violates, disobey or disregards any of the above order/orders so made by this Honourable Court pending the determination of this suit.”
However, the interim injunction is valid for only seven days from the date the judgment was given. “FURTHER IT IS ORDERED that having regard to the transient nature of Ex-parte Orders of Interim Injunction as established by several superior authorities and the Rules of this Court, the said orders shall abate after seven days of the date hereof”, while hearing of the Motion on Notice has been fixed for March 4, 2021.
Reacting, Offobike blamed the lingering crisis of the association on the unwillingness of Nwabunike and other hardliners to embrace peace, noting that the National President is merely executing a personal agenda designed to destroy ANLCA.
Going memory lane, Offobike claimed that part of the problem has to do with Nwabunike’s tendency to hold others responsible for his own faults, noting that despite other forces allegedly working through the National President, his mindset, Offobike said poses the greatest danger to the association’s tranquility.
He also accused Nwabunike of having vowed to destroyed ANLCA as part of old grudges he, Nwabunike, allegedly nurses against the Yoruba in the association.
According to him, “He told me if they try to push him, he will scatter ANLCA and that he will be the last president of ANLCA. That when he is about to conclude his tenure, that is when he will say his tenure has just started.
“I can see from the look of things that he wants to achieve that his aim, because if you look at him as the man at the helm of affairs in ANLCA, you will see that he does not want peace.”
…Laments non enforcement of court judgments
A chieftain of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Chief John Offobike has decried the laid back attitude with which the Nigerian Police Force enforces court judgments, noting that Nigerians have become apathetic to high level official negligence that has led to mismanagement of judicial pronouncements.
Offobike who was speaking on the backdrop of the recent court injunction secured by the Seme Border Chapter of ANLCA against its National Executive Committee (NECOM), lamented that the police watched whilst the court order was violated and treated like statements made by drunkards at roadside beer parlours.
The ANLCA chieftain expressed sadness that given the unprecedented slack in the enforcement of court rulings, a great number of Nigerians have elected to treat court judgments with impunity, noting that the development is a disservice to the administration of justice.
He said, “It is just unfortunate that Nigerian judiciary and the law enforcement system are not living up to expectation. When there is a court order, it is the duty of the police to enforce such ruling, but that is no longer happening.
“You go to them (police) to complain, they say they will have to go and verify, which means that they know that some rulings are kangaroo rulings. Why is the police not dealing with kangaroo or black market rulings, why must that be an excuse to its enforcement duty?
“So, if that finding proves correct, what happened to those who have been involved in kangaroo court rulings before? And again, after finding out about a lawful court ruling, they are still waiting for you to come and tell them to enforce the court ruling, this country is falling, it is unfortunate.”
He lamented further that NECOM has taken advantage of the failure of the judicial system to continue to “exhibit unacceptable conducts and to commit contempt of court by disobeying court orders.”
He notes however that the Registered Board of Trustees will not give up and believe that both the courts and the police will redeem the judicial system from completely falling apart. Apart from allegedly holding Nigerian Courts in contempt, Offobike also accused ANLCA President and NECOM, including those he described as fifth columnists and hardliners, of working tirelessly to destroy the association.
His dialogue with our reporter is reproduced below to tell the story better.
Reporter: There are rumour going on about elections conducted into the Western Zone chapters by the National executive Committee (NECOM), despite the one conducted by the Registered Board of Trustees earlier this year. Is there a scheme to kill ANLCA?
Offobike: Some time ago when the problem got to a height, Tony Iju told me during my meeting with him trying to persuade him to tow the path of peace, he tried to play up ethnic card, saying the Yoruba’s were the problem. I interrupted him and told him not to go there, that the issues have to do with his leadership style. He told me if they try to push him, he will scatter ANLCA and that he will be the last president of ANLCA. That when he is about to conclude his tenure, that is when he will say his tenure has just started. I can see from the look of things that he wants to achieve that his aim, because if you look at him as the man at the helm of affairs in ANLCA, you will see that he does not want peace. Even when you look at some parts of the world where terrorists operate, sometimes they are asked to lay down their arms and come to the round table, which Tony has not done. He is the one leading the conflict from the other side. Even if you look at conflicts internationally, take a place like Afghanistan, America despite its enormous powers will invite them and say, let us talk. It is from these talks Afghanistan was able to have its first democratic election and a leader. So, Tony is just hell bent on destroying ANLCA, while some fifth columnists are hailing him, and hardliners backing him. If not so, why has he treated various court rulings with impunity? He is been told to take advantage of Nigeria’s comatose judicial and enforcement system, that has made us look like a banana republic.
Reporter: But is this really about Nwabunike or something bigger?
Offobike: Are you not in this industry? Henry Njoku is the drummer and Tony Iju is the dancer. I have also realized that Iju is not as innocent as he tries to make sympathizers believe. Between him and Henry Njoku, the difference is just little. He is a good pupil who has learnt fast his master’s dance steps. Like l told you sometimes ago, he has made double speaking his trade mark; you know he is a politician. He says something in Kano, goes to Port Harcourt and say another thing, and in Lagos says something different. Maybe he didn’t know that ANLCA is a large place where people will analysis you for who you are. Anywhere he goes, he is like that, go and check his records. But we are not taken aback, we are keeping tab of anywhere he goes and what he says.
Reporter: You are?
Offobike: Yes. Every day is for the thief, one day is for the owner. So, let us watch how things will unfold.
Reporter: I understand that NECOM and BOT have been meeting the FECTAC Town Police Area Commander over the protracted crisis, why has the commander failed to give firm warning to the side that is in violation of the law in respect of court ruling?
Offobike: I understand there is a ruling stopping NECOM from further parading itself in office, from Badagry High Court in Lagos.
Reporter: Is this a recent ruling?
Offobike: Yes, it is the most recent, arising from the earlier application. You know that the suspended NECOM failed to obey the court ruling, so our Seme Chapter returned to court to reaffirm the earlier ruling which was again granted. So the BOT went to meet the Area Commander to enforce the court ruling, because these people at NECOM have no regard for laws and orders. So the Area Commander invited them to write undertaking not to flout the court ruling. Unfortunately, they went ahead to carry out an illegal election at night. I know that the end is very near, let us wait and see how it ends. That is all I can say for now.