By Stephen Ubanna
For much of 2018, and now, some aggrieved members of the 64 year -old Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCa, in the board of Trustees , described as bad losers in the election that usheed in the Tony Iju Nwabunike led National Executive Council Members, NECOM, at Enugu, south east Nigeria had declared war on the on the Team.
Until he contested election as the President of the Association in 2018, Nwabunike, who had served the Association at various levels and was the pioneer Chairman, of the Council For Registration of Freight Forwarders of Nigeria, CRFFN, was elected into the Association BoT in 2014, in an election organised by Oloayiwola Shituu, the then President.
He had beaten other Contestants which could have made him the Chairman, of the BoT, baseedd on agreement but was stopped by the older members in the Board on the ground that he was a fresher.
Among the older members of the Board were Enoch.A.Iwueze, Sea Freighters ltd, Denis Okafor, Denca Services limited, Henry Njoku, Hartex ltd, who is currently a Representative of the Association in CRFFN, Taiwo Oyeniyi, Mac-Mary Nig.ltd, DayoDvid Azeez, Mambilla Shipping AG ltd, Mustapha Taiwo, Mid Quicka Bonded Terminal and late Sani A.Shittu, Siram Cargo Services ltd, who incidentally served as a President of the Association.
Other were Okunola Mikky Olalere, Been Thing Investment Limited, Emmanuel Azodo, EMGIC Ventures Ltd,Isa Aliyu, I&A Maritime, Nwabunike, Mac-Tonnel ltd, who incidentally is the current President of the Association,, Earnest Elochkwu, Earnestillo Global limited and Peter Obih, Seamap, Nigeria ltd.
Given the opposition of the older members of the BoT from seeing Nwabunike, a dashing young man, full of deas, from emerging as the Chairman of the Board, the Mac-Tonnel, Chairman and Managing Director, was said to have thrown up taiwo Mustapha, who had become one of those opposed to him to be the Coordinator of the Board , until a substantive Chairman was elected.
Going by the Constitution of the Association each , elected member of the Board would hold office for a term of six years and could be re-elected for another six year term on the expiration of his first term in office.
The tenure of the present Board members who were elected in 2014 at Warri, Delta state, had expired. Many believe that Nwabunike may have created a strong opposition against himself after the election that brought him into office when he decided to accommodate everybody to have a unified body.
He got it wrong. This is because the aggrieved members of the BoT who were opposed to him were not ready to work with him to fulfill electioneering Campaign promises to reposition the Association.The group , are determined to force Nwabunike out of office, using b their money and blackmail.
. Nwabunike may have agreed to accommodate the repentant members of the Board against the wish of the hardline Necom. Collins Farinton, the Vice President, described as an egg head and a strong supportter of the President believe that the crisis in the Association could have been settled long ago if Nwabunike had not been too lenienet with BoT members, which gave room to grow larger than size. Trouble may have started when Nwabunike, led NECOM , began to make plans to conduct election into the Board, which Oyeniyi and his group did not find funny.
The group , who had members described as money bags in maritime circles , may have decided to use their money to fight the Nwabunike led NECOM to a stand still. They want Nwabunike to stop parading himself as the President of the Association, when his tenure had not expired. Given their overwhelming influence in the south west, they had made it difficult for the Chapter executives in the region to remit 40 % of their monthly dues collection to the National ecretriat for running of the office.
The Value News learnt that only the south East and Kano chapter in the north , including the Murtala Muhammed Chapter in the south west are currently making their remittance to the National Secretariat but the honey pot remain. The south west Chapter Executives who are enjoying the perks of office because of their close relationship with Area Comptrollers who they patronize may have feared that Nwabunike would not give them such opportunity.
This may have informed why they are working with the Onyeniyi group .It is not not surprising why the shipping Companies, terminal operators, Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, and the Customs Authorities are treating the agents at the ports and no one could speak for them. ”The Apapa , Tincan Island and PTML, including the KLT, chapter executives have lost their sense of decency, an agent remarked.
Many believe that if Nwabunike could drop the plan to organise the election to elect new BoT members, Onyeni and his group would sheath their sword. Onyeniyi may have alluded much to this when he reportedly said that nWabunike had failed to understand that people put him in that office and that is the price he is he has to pay: strong Opposition..
The Magazine gathered, Njokwu and three other members of the Board , had written their Valedictory speech to go, to pave the way for another election into the BOT. The five Opposition Bot members may have known that the office of the President of ANLCA, is very powerful, that Oyeni, the Mac-Mary Nigeria Managing Director and, member of the Board, described in ANLCA circles as the arrow head of the Opposition against Nwabunike led NECOM, had petitioned the Coorporate Affairs Commission ‘”’”to withdraw a purported amended Constitution of the Association with it”. Onyenyii, who may be serving as the Secretary of the discredited BoT, may have hit a road block.
This is because , Maryan Faruk, the Registrar General of the Commission in her reply, to Onyeniyi, in a letter dated November 5, 2020, which was said to have been received at the Association National secretariat, may have dashed their hope.
The letter reads in parts, ‘’I am directed to inform you that the Commission cannot grant your request because of pending matter in Court ‘’. The Commission was said to have had made it clear to the petitioner, that ‘’the application would be put on hold pending the determination of the matter’’, in Court.
The opposition group may have pushed Nwabunike to the wall that he is no longer ready to take it from them as he talks tough, warning that ”enough is enough’’. He appeared ready to exploit his enormous powers in the Association Constitution to sanction the recalcitrant members who are out to bring the Association to its knees and call bluff.
Recall that in early October, the group were said to have organized hoodlums who were armed to the teeth , wearing Charms , wh stormed the Inde House, premises of the National Secretriat along Durba road , to take it over.
The hoodlums who were said to have destroyed the Close Circuit CC,TV, mounted in the office, louvres and broke into the offices, could have caused more damage both for the intervention of the police. . The Assocociation was said to have spent close to N20 million to fix the damaged facilities.
In spite of the opposition by the group to force the Nwabunike led NECOM to abandom the Annual General Meeting, AGM, which would usher in a new Board, Nwabunike is still going ahead with his plan .
The ban on the collection of forms for the BoT and the Chapter Executives , not yet filled, had been ”very encouraging,” an insider said. .
The Magazine learnt that the N11 million which had been raised from the sale of Forms are in still intact in the bank which is controlled by the Board. Although, Onyeniyi, is a signatary of the Bank Account,, but he cannot access the funds because, Njoku, a former Chairman of the Board, who is also a signatory , had not agreed to withdraw his signature to the Account.
But the Opposition in a recent parley with some selected Journalists had acuseded the Nwabunike led ANLCA NECOM of mismanaging the N30 million raised from the sale of forms by those seeking elective office in the Association both at the national and Chapter levels.
There are fears in both official and unofficial circles that the Onyeniyi group may head to Court to stop the election. This may not be the first time the group may be heading to Court over the ANLCA matters. Recall that in October 11, 2019, Justice R.M. Alikawa, of the Federal High Court , Lagos, had delivered a Judgment in the case of Sky Sail Nigeria ltd and Obih, who are alleged registered Board members of ANLCA and others, where ‘’it had declared that it is only the CAC, that could give consent upon application of ANLCA that any appointment of a trustee can be valid.
The Court may have reminded the litigants about a Certificate of Registration, dated January 16, 2020, for the reconstitution of the BoT of the Association which was issued by the CAC. Recall, that Onyeniyi,in her letter as Secretary of the BoT, had confirmed that the 2014 elected members of the BoT, were not registered with the CAC, which make their continued stay in office illegal.
. The Court may have given the Nwbunike led NECOM powers to go ahead and dissolve the BoT , when it said that ‘’ there is need to organize fresh lection of BoT members who shall appoint the Association of Electoral CommissioN, ASSECO, members ‘’ to monitor the election of the National officers of the National Executive Committee’’.
This is an indication that the Opposition ANLCA BoT, members have no reason to truncate the election but to Cooperate with the Nwabunike led NECOM to have a new ANLCA. The Opposition had claimed that they have exhausted all avenues to sue for peace in the Association but Nwabunike had remained very stuborn. But the soft talking Nwabunke had said that he had made all the necessary efforts to ensure that there is peace in the Association but no luck. He may be right.
This is because, he had not dragged the recalcitrant group to Court to stop them from parading themselves as BoT mbers despite the fact that their tenure had expired since last January.
Not, the Opposition BoT group had dragged him, Mac-Tonnel, which is his Company and the Association, NECOM to Court severl times. They may have sown tribal sentiments into the Association to whip up sentiments.