The Police, CRFFN, Others And The Controversial ANLCA AGM
BY GBOGBOWA GBOWA
Just yesterday, Monday February 6, 2023, the registered Board of Trustees (BoT) of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) cancelled the association’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) earlier slated for Benin City and thereafter Lagos, on the grounds of procedural violation and alleged incompetence of the convener, Dr. Kayode Farinto, to do so.
The statement signed by Prince Taiye Oyeniyi, Secretary of the Board on behalf of the Board Chairman, Alhaji Taiwo Ibrahim, clarified that only the Board has the constituted authority to call an AGM, following the expiration of the tenure if Dr. Kayode Farinto as National President and leader of the National Executive Committee (NECOM).
The Board explained that if at the expiration of the NECOM, there is no immediate replacement or succession, all powers over the association’s corporate being, activities, ideas and otherwise, automatically reverts to the BoT, as custodian of all of ANLCA’s affairs; tangible and intangible, administrative and otherwise; corporate and entire.
In the disclaimer published both in the national daily and online mediums, Oyeniyi said that the BoT will announce the convocation of an AGM at the appropriate time, and urged members of the association, stakeholders and the Nigerian public to disregard the purported AGM called by the expired NECOM.
The Board urged all institutions, including the Nigeria Customs Service and the Nigeria Police Force in particular, to be aware and to refrain from conferring undue recognition and or support for any AGM not sanctioned by it.
Explaining the development, the board said, “The cancellation is consequent upon the Resolution of the Registered Board of Trustees of the Association, which declared the scheduled AGM illegal on the ground that the tenure of the purported conveners has expired since April 16, 2022. By Section 13, Subsection 4 (a-d) of the Supreme Constitution of ANLCA 2008 (as amended) the tenure of the National Executive Committee (NECOM) elected in Enugu on 8th March 2018, expired on the 16th April 2022.
“It is the constitutional duty of the Registered Board of Trustees to convene an AGM in this instance, and same shall be done as soon as possible. Members of the Association are therefore advised to disregard the purported AGM and go about their lawful businesses as a new date, venue and modalities of the said AGM shall be communicated in due course.
“By this Notice, our esteemed stakeholders in the freight forwarding subsector, especially the Nigeria Customs Service, Nigerian Ports Authority, Shipping Agencies, Terminal Operators, Nigeria Shippers Council, Edo State Government and CRFFN are equally advised to ignore the purported AGM as it shall be of no consequence. The law enforcement agencies, especially the Nigeria Police Force are particularly advised to take note.”
Farinto the embattled NP of ANLCA had immediately repudiated news report of the cancellation of the AGM by the Board, referring to the report as ‘fake news.’ This is even as usual credible top insider sources confided in our reporter that those backing him (Farinto) have called him to calm down and to respect the mutual agreements reached by both sides during the last peace engagement; given the determination by all concerned to end the crisis once and for all.
Instructively, Farinto in an informal online WhatsApp communication later last night, apparently bent double backwards to accept the postponement of the AGM scheduled to hold earlier today, with a caveat that he has decided to postpone purportedly at the instance of the Chairman of the Council for the Registration of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN), Alhaji Tsanni Abubakar.
The message reads: “Professional colleagues, I am sorry to inform you that the AGM will no more hold tomorrow due to the fact that the Chairman of Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding practice insist that he wishes to observe our AGM for the first time.
“However due to campaign going on in his state he can’t make it tomorrow hence we will shift the AGM by few days and communicate to you. We are highly sorry for any Inconveniences this might have caused.
“This will also allow the other group (to) make their inputs for a successful AGM, the most important thing is to achieve a lasting peace in our great association.”
Undoubtedly an essential and fine political player with his eyes fixed on the game, he signed off in a considerable smart detour, as does masters of the circus and long haul players: “Please ignore the efforts of people making their daily needs on the crises. Thanks for your understanding.”
Reacting to the development, some insiders who asked not to be named, hooted the excuse as a soft landing gimmick to mitigate what they described as an avoidable damage to self esteem, as they argued that the Council Chairman possesses no authority to advise the call off of a legitimate AGM, least of all for his personal engagements.
Thus far, the Tsanni Abubakar theory, real or trumpeted has been dismissed with a wave of the hand, since in any case, the CRFFN Governing Council he chair has been roundly dubbed a lame sitting duck, allegedly solely preoccupied with pecuniary pursuits, and other sideline benefits, such as political farming.
Those whose business it is to know say a Governing Council that demonstrated wholesale incompetence through its entire first term, and rigged itself back into a second tenure, still unable to find the right compass to navigate its cause, cannot be relied upon to provide a safe sail.
As for the lack of legitimacy of the postponed AGM, it has since assumed the sound of whispering palm, audible for all to hear, even for those hard in hearing. A chieftain of ANLCA, Sir John Alfred Ofobike, who was part of the court ousted Iju Tony Nwabunike led NECOM, and who choose to maintain his integrity by excusing himself after the court ruling, says those who sat put in office despite the court order must be consider as trouble makers, and who can offer nothing but trouble.
He continues: “Our tenure has expired since 16th April 2022, we were elected in March 2018 and sworn into office on 14th April 2018, with our Supreme Constitution of 2008 which states 4 years tenure. I don’t know where Farinto and co drived their power from. Section 13 of the Constitution states the functions of the Board and how it will administer the association when there is crisis until a new National Executive Committee (NECOM) is constituted.
“Farinto and co are interlopers, they are just parading themselves with impunity in office. Now his present focus is to become president, and he will do anything to pursue his blind ambition, this is what is happening with the illegal calling of AGM, he does not have the power.
“Remember it was that it was Mukaila (Abdulazeez Mukaila) that signed the first notice, which they scheduled to take place in Benin City. He Farinto does not listen to advise, even those who had supported him have asked him to calm down and let the issue of the AGM be discussed further by both camps, he has refused, hence he signed the second notice. You can see how he is creating confusion everywhere just to have his way” Ofobike remarked.
It will be recalled that pursuant to the current peace initiative, the two factions led by the duo of Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha and Dr. Taiwo Afolabi, respectively, had met in Lagos, under the intervention and guidance of the Nigeria Police. The first meeting of January 12 was followed by another one the following day, January 13, 2023, at Sunfit Hotel, Amuwon-Odofin.
It was agreed that the Police should be involved in determining the legitimate BoT which shall be allowed to supervise the next election, amongst other agreements as to the composition of ASECO; and when elections and other meetings should hold. The meeting also agreed that both parties should sponsor the police’s trip to the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) on the proposed search for the authentic registered BOT.
Above position which was confirmed by Joe Sanni and Abdulazeez Mukaila, representing either camps, was however later thwarted by the said AGM, which was unilaterally imposed by the Afolabi/Farinto faction.
So far, the status report of the BoT as at 23/1/2023 resides expressly with the AlhajiTaiwo Mustapha-led BOT as the only Board in existence in ANLCA.
It is rumoured that while Chief Henry Njoku drafted him into the race, Farinto has managed to continue to secure the support of the factional BoT Chairman, Dr. Taiwo Afolabi, which also explained reason he (Afolabi) granted him the use of Marriot Hotel Ikeja Lagos, solely owned by the billionaire industrialist.
Those whose business it is to know say that while Njoku has registered a rival association in ANLCA operational Eastern Zone, where he allegedly exercises total and unquestionable control over all members of the association. Insiders say his current desire is to seek to balkanize the Western Zone and make it possible to install a puppet leadership, preparatory to annexing the zone; in the plot to become the national leader, with the respective national and zonal authorities reporting to him.
Those who bandied this position say Farinto found the idea of becoming a National President of ANLCA very attractive, and purportedly fell at the feet of Njoku and hence willing to do as directed if only he would get installed.
But the permutations did not appear to have fallen as easily in the right places as envisaged, as the master kingmaker experienced clear opposition from some quarters that advised him to stick with the terms of agreement of both factions, in order to conclude the peace process and begin the journey of rebuilding of ANLCA.
It is speculated that Njoku’s attempt to review some of its earlier plans didn’t go down well with Farinto, particularly, as the latter insisted on the AGM holding in Lagos, following the alleged withdrawal of Njoku’s support for the AGM to hold in Benin City. The situation degenerated and became like one of the falcon refusing to heed the call of the falconer. With the offer of Marriot Hotel by Lagos tycoon billionaire, Farinto according to those familiar with the show, elected to go it alone, but backpedalled at the eleventh hour; with the full realization that he was probably, standing alone.
Knowledgeable members of ANLCA say it is a bad bargain to break the existing norm of having the presidency rotate evenly between the two major ethnic tribe; which has seen real stability in recent time in ANLCA. With Prince Olayiwola Shittu’s two successful terms, the Igbo who logically alone contested the position of the association’s president in 2018 were expected to hold the office for another term to complete two consecutive terms.
The events following Iju Nwabunike’s inability to provide a peaceful leadership atmosphere between the various organs of authority, forced him to abdicate the office early 2022, as he relinquished power to his Deputy President, Dr. Kayode Farinto, in acting capacity.
Late last year, a chieftain of the association, Prince Segun Oduntan, speaking the mind of well meaning members of ANLCA advised that Igbo members should scout for one of their own (Igbo candidate) to contest and takeover, and thereby complete the second and final term of four years as part of the turn of the Igbo to provide leadership.
Members were therefore shocked and dismayed that some persons owing to personal gains they hope to get, have decided to roughen the political pond by introducing strange and objectionable propositions; which includes the unsettling of the norm that has protected the association against the negative tide of ethnic discontent.
Ironically, a newspaper report earlier today, quoted Iju Tony Nwabunike as supporting Farinto’s candidacy, in total disregard to the standing arrangement that the office of the president shall rotate evenly between the Yoruba and Igbo; who dominates the freight industry.
At different for a, concerned members of the association have appealed to the Inspector General of Police to take more than passing interest in the crisis that has rocked ANLCA in the past four years, and to streamline conflicting directives emanating from his office over the association’s leadership tussle; in the light of the police deep involvement in the association’s imbroglio.