CRFFN Leadership Crisis: Stakeholders Faults Appointment of Uromta
BY GBOGBOWA GBOWA
Reactions have begun to trail the rejection of the Governing Board of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) to renew the tenure of the Council Registrar, Barr. Sam Nwakohu; and the subsequent appointment of Mrs. Chinyere Uromta, as Acting Registrar.
Mrs. Uromta who was the Director of Regulations and Enforcement was named as replacement for Nwakohu at an Emergency Meeting of the Governing Board held last week at Abuja.
Condemning the Governing Board action as illegal and a violation of the CRFFN Act, Chidi Anthony Opara, RFF, FIIM, CDOA, argued that the process and action are inconsistent with the provisions of the Council’s rules and guidelines, to the extent of illegality.
While noting that the Council Board may have acted within its powers for denying the long embattled Registrar a second term based on its assessments, he argued that the Council Act does not provide for the appointment of the Registrar in acting capacity; hence the Board has erred and it’s action a nullity in the face of the law, he averred.
In a statement he signed and made available to our reporter, Opara said:
“Recent news media reports had it that the Governing Council of the Council For The Regulation Of Freight Forwarding In Nigeria (CRFFN) had in its meeting of 26th January, 2023 ordered the CRFFN Registrar, whose five-year tenure expires soon to hand over the duties of that office to the most senior management staffer who would be performing that function in the capacity of “Acting Registrar” pending the reappointment or appointment of a substantive Registrar.
“If these news reports are true, on the surface, this action of the CRFFN Governing Council would seem a step in the right direction, but on scrutiny, this action is a violation of the CRFFN establishment act(Act 16 of 2007).
“The CRFFN establishment act in part 3, section 11, subsection 1, provides for the appointment of “a fit and proper person” to perform the functions of Registrar. Subsection 2 specifies the functions. At no point in the CRFFN establishment act was provision made for the position of “Acting Registrar”. There is also no provision for the position of Deputy or Assistant Registrar.”
The statement continues: “The implications of going ahead with the illegality of the appointment of “Acting Registrar” would be that actions, etc, taken in that capacity would be null and void and of no effect whatsoever.
“Further implication would be that strict adherence to the rule of law in the subsector would have be seen as being further relegated”.
The former scribe of the Freight Forwarders Forum explained that the Board got it wrong at the point it failed to put mechanism in place to begin the process of the replacement of the Council CEO, which process he noted are procedural and must be in keeping with its act.
“The CRFFN Governing Council would have fast tracked the process of reappointment or appointment of a substantive Registrar before the expiration of the tenure of the present Registrar.
“In case of appointment of a new Registrar, the person so appointed would have assumed office immediately the tenure of the present Registrar expires. Having not done that, the Governing Council have created a vacuum that cannot be filled if the principle of adherence to the rule of law should be applied and seen to be applied strictly.”
To control the perceived damage, the erudite and outspoken freight forwarder recommends that the Board should look inward with a view to fast tracking the process to avoid constitutional conflict.
“What the Governing Council needs to do to control the present damage is to fast track the process of reappointment or appointment of a substantive Registrar and not this resort to “Acting Registrar” illegality.”
Also condemning the appointment, a chieftain of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) who does not wish to be identified said the present Governing Council has proved time and again that it is bereft of ideas and lacks the capacity to be objective and professional in its actions.
“Check everything this board has done since coming, it has always been about selfish pursuits, how can they talk about appointment in acting capacity when they have fought this Registrar for almost a year and demanded his resignation, and didn’t even prepare for his departure?
“This board lacks capacity and so far, anything they do is ad hoc, the only thing they have proved to be able to handle with clear capacity is to fight to share money, they are not objective”, he said.
The outgoing registrar has reportedly at the Board’s meeting in December 2022 submitted a letter, requesting to be considered for reappointment.
Consequently, Chairman of the Council, Alhaji Abubakar Tsanni set up an ad-hoc committee, headed by Efeanyi Isikaku, to look into the request and to submit its report in two weeks.
Speaking on the outcome of the ad-hoc committee, Muftahu Ya’u, Chairman Committee on Media and Publicity said:
“Following the completion of its assignment and submission of its report, the council, therefore, convened today (Thursday) in Abuja to deliberate on the next line of action to be taken in respect of the committee’s recommendations.
” The AdHoc committee made important recommendations with reference to the provisions of Public Service Rules as well as the council’s Act.
“The committee however, recommended that in order to avoid a vacuum after the expiration of the Registrar’s tenure, the council shall start making arrangements for a handover of the Registrar’s office to the most senior management staff of the council.
“Similarly, the committee also recommended that the Appointment Promotion and Discipline committee of the Council be directed to start making preparations for reappointment or appointment of substantive Registrar”
Ya’u adds: “Finally, the council’s chairman soon after the adoption, approval, and ratification of the committee’s recommendations by members of the council directed the followings:
“That arrangement for the Registrar’s handover to Mrs. Chinyere Uromta Director, Regulations and Enforcement on 31st of January 2023.
“That committee on Appointment Promotion and Discipline go ahead to start preparations for reappointment/appointment of a new Registrar ”
It will be recalled that there has been no love lost between the outgoing Registrar and the Board members, due to issues of mutual distrust and associated malice. Among their differences is rumour of the Registrar rebuffing Board members alleged request to have a share of the Council project funds.