ANLCA: EFCC Intervenes To Save One Year -Old Crisis

 By Nwanggwu Uba

Barely one year in office  of the current Executive of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA, led  Nwabunike Tony iju,  normalcy appears yet to return to the Association. This is because of the internal crisis in the Association which had to do with the refusal of a clique  holding on to the  documents  of its property , thus making the current Nwabunike  led EXCO  as operating illegally in the office complex.

The situation is so worrisome  that the ANLCA EXCO  had accused    Olayiwola Shittu, a former President of the Association  of keeping away  the documents to frustrate his successor in office. But Shittu will not take it. ”The  ANLCA EXCO  knew  who is holding  documents of the property   but had refused to confront  him”, he  had said.  

Perhaps, in apparenger anger to force  Shittu to speak out on the matter  and possibly force  the clique  holding the documents regarded as his loyalists to release it,   may have forced  the  Nwabunike led Executive to  engage the services of the Ibrahim Magu led  Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC,  to intervene to save the situation from degenerating.

 This may have encouraged the  Commission  to invite the former ANLCA president to appear in their Abuja  Head office on April 4, 2019 assist in the on- going investigation on the activities of the Association.    A document made available to the Value News  shows that the invitation may not have been in bad faith but  to seek ‘clarification”  from him on certain issues concerning the Association which had ” become imperative”. The  anti-graft agency had pleaded  with the former ANLCA  boss to ”honour the invitation”.

The letter inviting  Shittu, the former ANLCA President to the EFCC Head office was said to have  been signed  by    A.M.  Adache,   Head, Intelligence  and Special Operations   Section, on behalf the Commission’s Director of Operations.  

The agency had given the former  president a matching order to come along   with ”all the relevant original  documents regarding  properties  purchased  and sold  of the Association”.  Many had expected Shittu, to be detained  by  the  EFCC operatives , until he is ready to produce  the documents to the Association. They got  it wrong.

Olayiwola Shittu: Former ANLCA President

 Given that he had no skeleton in his cupboard, he was said to have honoured the EFCC invitation . In apparent response to questions posed to him  regarding to the alleged ALCA  property  documents which had developed wings ,  he was  said to have told his EFCC  interrogators  that  since he left  office as president of the Association on April 14, 2018, there is no official document  of the Association still in his custody.    The current ANLCA  Executive knew who is holding the documents he  was said to have  volunteered information  that the EXCO knew  who  to approach  to recover the documents. There are indications  that the Commission may likely  invite the parties  to resolve the crisis  as Shittu , the former ANLCA, was allowed to go .

Insiders told the Value News that  the Problem of getting the  property  document by ANLCA EXCO  may have  been made worse  because of the crisis within the ranks of the Association Board of Trustees , BOT under the Chairmanship of  Henry Njoku .  There  are those within the ranks of the Board and the   Association in general who want Njoku to go to pave way for election to elect another  BOT Chairman and other  members to pilot its affairs.  The incumbent Chairman was said to have frustrated all the efforts  with the support  of some powerful members of the Association  regarded as King makers.

Many believe that the issue would have been settled  long ago if Nwabunike , the Association  President had been available  in office in the last one to attend to Association matters.  He was said to have taken a year  leave  of absence to participate in partisan politics in his home  state , Anambara ,  thus left  the running of the Assciation in the hands of Kayode Farinto, the Vice President. Farinto may have lost respect of some members of the  BOT and  aggrived members of the Association as they tried to make  things  difficult for him to function  in that capacity of acting  president to take major decisions.  

 The aggrieved group may have  had  the feelings that  Nwabunike, the ANLCA  EXCO   was backing Njoku, the embattled BOT, Chairman , which may not have been true.  Eniola Igbaroola,  Chief of Staff to the ANLCA , president , who could not  hide his feelings when confronted by The Value News  stressed there was no basis for any person  to deny the  present EXCO taking possession of the property document because it was bought and furnished  with the Association money.

Dariola  alluded that Nwabunike  and his team  may have stepped on powerful  toes  in the Association  because of their too many questions  bordering on the expenditure on the building. He noted that there was no proper records for  ”Accountability” kept by the former EXCO of the Association, fueling  speculation that  this is the genesis of the crisis in the Association.

 He  disclosed that those who are  used to old ways of doing things in the Association  without accounting for every kobo collected from the Association purse  to  do a particular job or carry out an assignment are not ready to make  a change .  the only way out is for them to create  the impression that the ANLCA is in  total crisis, he said. He disabused people’s mind that there is no crisis in the Association, insisting that  Farinto, the Vice President, was able to  Coordinate the affairs of the Association, within the one year that the President  was on vacation.

Maritime watchers believe that the return of Nwabunike  to the office would restore  a lasting peace to the Association.  He was said to have reached out  to some prominent members of the Association to join hands with him in rebuilding the Association. This is evident going by the one year celebration of the EXCO as the Secretariat was parked full  as members poured encomiums on the EXCO over their achievements, particular the president as a bridge builder. 

 Members who spoke  He that despite  the  plots  by  a clique holding the Association ungovernable to show that that there is no peace, it has not  derailed the current EXCO, from keeping  to  its promises. This is evident with the beautification of the Secretariat training centre with state of the art facilities.  The Conference centre and the offices have also been given a facelift to  improve the Association  service delivery and stadardisation of its operations and services.  The Nwabunike led EXCO may have been galvanised to do all that because of  the right foundation that had been laid by  Shittu, the former President.

Recall  that  Nwabunike, the ANLCA , president    on assumption of duties had  promised     to” assist the government  in ”reducing  the administrative bottlenecks   in the  clearing process at the  country’s seaports  as well as ”support the government efforts  to improve  doing of  business  in Nigeria to attract foreign investors.

 He had also promised    to work with the government in eliminating    the duplication of its agencies  and the harmonisation of charges  at the ports . This is in addition   to the reduction  of automobile tariffs and the reduction  of port congestions by including  the Border posts   for clearing  of vehicles . It further promised  the elimination of foreigners   and unlicensed  agents  in the Customs Brokers business.   Farinto, the Vice President may have initiated the process of  implementing some of  the promises  by fighting for the removal of the  Headquarters Strike Force from the  seaports and the road to facilitate the clearing of goods but that was how far he could go. Perhaps, the return  of  the ANLCA  president  to carry out his Association duties would make the difference.    

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