…As Farinto Renege, After Conceding ANLCA Presidential Ticket
BY EGUONO ODJEGBA
Board of Trustees (BoT) of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) led by Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha has dismissed two members of the Association Electoral Committee (ASECO), over non possession of valid customs licenses, saying it is illogical and inappropriate to have non licensed customs agents preside over the election of licensed customs agents.
In a related development, there was also indication that one of the presidential candidates, Dr. Kayode Farinto conceded his ticket during a serious parley between the BoT and NECOM, amid calm and realistic political horse trading deployed by the leadership machinery to shore up the prevailing peace and to allow the association to move forward.
However, he was said to have later backed out of the bargain after purportedly consulting with Chief Henry Njoku, his political godfather and promoter, who reportedly flew into Lagos yesterday.
The action against the two ASECO members by the Investigative Committee set up by the BoT to probe allegations of non possession of valid customs licenses by some of those participating in the election, whether as contestants, voters and or electoral umpires; is said to be in line with the demand of the ANLCA Constitution.
Reports indicate that the Board’s Investigative Committee headed by a former President of ANLCA and current board member, Chief Ernest Elochukwu which began sitting on Saturday, reportedly received petitions that two members of the ASECO including the Chairman, Chief Aloy Nze Igwe and two other members of ASECO, Messrs Erasmus Okowa and Samuel Oluwale Obe.
Other members of the defunct BoT, allegedly including Ozo Chukwura do not own valid operating licenses. In a petition by Enekwechi Onyimba Esq dated June 5 2023 addressed to the BoT Chairman, Oyinba called for the reconstitution of the electoral body, alleging that its chairman and the two other identified members do not own customs licenses and therefore cannot determine the elective fate of those with licenses.
The letter titled REQUEST TO RECONSTITUTE MEMBERS OF ASECO reads:
“This is to formally notify you of the ineligibility of ASECO chairman, Mr. Alloy Igwe, Mr. Erasmus Okowa and Mr. Samuel Oluwale Obe as members of ASECO of our great Association. My petition is premised on the fact that both of them have no operational Customs license which qualifies them to operate as agents and to be members of the Association in accordance with section 4(B) of the Constitution of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents.
“I consider this a moral burden to disclose because it is not only unconstitutional but also runs contrary to the principles of equity, good conscience and natural justice to vest powers on non-license owners to screen, qualify and disqualify bonafide members of the Association with subsisting operational licenses. Having lost their membership of the association, I respectfully urge you to relieve them of their appointment and cause a replacement from already screened members of ASECO.
“May I also draw your attention to the fact that appointment and swearing in of national officers or ad-hoc committee members are usually done in the properly constituted NEC meeting as stated in section 5(g) of our supreme constitution and not in the lardy of a hotel.”
The committee working on the basis of above petition notes that election qualification is a constitutional requirement that must be upheld by the ASECO under the oversight of the BoT; and demanded that the identified persons without operating license in the ASECO should excuse the body.
According to dependable insider sources, despite vehement protestations by the affected umpires that the Board was unfair to subject them to screening after their appointment, the committee explained that appointment into ASECO cannot be done in isolation and insisted that it would be illegal and immoral to allow them to preside over the fate of licensed agents, without possessing the requisite qualification.
The four man Investigative Committee headed by Elochukwu said the electoral laws takes precedence in matters of qualifications and applies evenly to all participants in the exercise, whether as contestants, voters or electoral umpires.
Our sources had informed that during the parley, Farinto had accepted to step down from the contest to allow Emenike Nwokeoji run unopposed. He was said to have however demanded that those willing to step down should be reimbursed of their expenses, including the cost of nomination forms, which was accepted.
According to eye witness account, when he was called upon at the enlarged meeting of both the Board and NECOM, to reinstate his commitment to withdraw from the contest, he was said to have requested to first of all inform and consult with his team and supporters before making a public declaration to step down.
At the continuation of the meeting however, Farinto was said to have reneged on his earlier pledged to back down from the contest in the spirit of sportsmanship and as his contribution to bringing peace back to the association.
Similarly, the offside BoT with Ozor Chukwura and others had during the peace dialogue and horse trading requested that following Farinto decision to step down, they should be reabsorbed into the board; a request the BoT and NECOM said will be looked into and response given at a later time.
The parley could not also agree on the voting method to be adopted, in view of the demand that the election should hold at an Annual General Meeting (AGM), as against the supporters of Emenike Nwokeoji who are rooting for the collegiate system, which they argued has been the method for NECOM election since 2004.
Recall that the ASECO Chairman, Chief Nze Igwe recently flew the kite about the election holding in an AGM, despite subscribing to the application of Supreme Constitution of ANLCA as guide.
In an online newspaper report, not Pinnacle Time, Igwe said “ANLCA has just one constitution, forget the fact that the crisis threw up a lot of agitations, this ASECO is taking care of whatever lapses that anybody might envisage, I can assure you that we are going to make use of the ANLCA Supreme Constitution that we have been using abnitio.
“I wouldn’t want us to play politics with the issue of constitution, forget about mischief makers, the internal crisis has come and gone, whatever is left, this ASECO is taking care of it and set to deliver a credible election. Because of the crisis we have at the chapters, we think it is better we come up with the NECOM election first, so that, once we have the NECOM in place, we can return to the chapter.
“We started with the BOT, they have the power to supervise ASECO and they are the ones that set up this ASECO. They are going to supervise the NECOM, after which, we move to the chapters. NECOM election is going to be done by AGM, it is a matter of our constitution, people should read through the constitution and be rest assured”, he said.
The parley was yet to trash out the issue of AGM or Collegiate system for the election before the stalemate, as at yesterday. As such, it is unclear if the July 5 election scheduled date will still hold or not.