The Eyewitness Reporter
The fragile peace accord in the Association of Nigerian Customs Licensed Agents (ANLCA) facilitated by the Council for the Registration of Freight Forwarding Practice in Nigeria (CRFFN) after over four years of crisis in the association, may have finally collapsed with the apparent unresolved differences between the two warring parties over the purported dissolution of the association’s National Executive Council (NECOM).
On Thursday, July 13th, 2023, Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha, the Chairman of the Unified Board of Trustees (BOT) of ANLCA, announced the dissolution of the association’s NECOM and the appointment of a Sole Administrator to take over the affairs of the association for three months pending the time the election would be held.
In a swift reaction, Prince Ozo Chukurah, the Vice Chairman of the unified BOT, issued a counter statement Friday, July 14th, 2023 dismissing the purported dissolution and asking the general public to disregard the action, as there was no time the BOT met to take such decision.
Similarly, Kayode Farinto, the Acting President of ANLCA has declared that Alhaji Musthapha lacked the powers to dissolve the NECOM, saying the National Executive Committee(NEC) which sat on July 12th, 2023, had already granted NECOM additional three months tenure extension, saying the body, as the highest decision- making organ of the association, has overruled Musthapha and his BOT.
However, Mustapha, in a statement issued Saturday, July 15th, 2023, insisted that the decision to dissolve NECOM is irreversible as it was in tandem with the supreme constitution of the association and in the interest of fair play and justice.
In a statement sent to our reporter, Alhaji Mustapha insisted that the dissolution order followed due process and therefore, could not be controverted.
“We stand by our position, but I plead with all to drop our ego and come back to further discussion on the way forward” he declared.
He averred that the continued stay in office of members of the NECOM, especially Kayode Farinto, who is the Acting President and a contestant in the coming NECOM elections, is against morality and natural justice.
In reaction to the claim of Prince Chukurah, Mustapha maintained that the BOT, which has the constitutional powers to dissolve the NECOM, has met to discuss the matter.
He reiterated that he was not sold out on becoming BOT chairman but claimed his action was driven by the desire to enthrone peace, justice and equity in ANLCA.
Mustapha lamented that he had made a lot of sacrifices to ensure that peace reign in ANLCA but regretted that a few individuals with selfish intentions with biases had truncated the efforts in order to actualise their inordinate desire.
The BOT chairman claimed he had put in so much effort and energy to ensure he reins in the aggrieved factional group by dissuading its members from forming a parallel government.
“The issue of NECOM dissolution had been discussed variously at physical meetings and via telephone conversations and the main reservation of few including the Vice Chairman had been the obvious difficulty of BOT members running the secretariat themselves.
” But we have to refer to norms and previous practices where the BOT had to take decisions in the interest of the common good.
” But beyond the puerile arguments of who was and wasn’t consulted, the critical issue is about adhering to the tenets of ANLCA Supreme Constitution as a pathfinder.
” Section 8 (subsection 2a & b) and I quote:
“EXTENSION OF TENURE:
Notwithstanding subsection (1) of this section, the National Executive Council shall have powers to extend its tenure in conjunction with the BOT as follows;
(a) In any case of emergency, for a period not more than 3 months.
(b) In any case of any controversy or deadlock arising from its inability to conduct an election or from an inconclusive election for 6 months only.
” But where the emergency or deadlock persists, the Board of Trustees will step in, dissolve and take over cum appoint Administrator to administer the office for a period not more than 6 months and conduct an election.” end of quote.
“This matter was made explicitly clear during the meeting called on Monday 10th July 2023, hence it would not have required another meeting to implement it.
” Beyond all these arguments, we should address our minds to the moral issues involved.
” For instance, why is it so important that a contestant or contestant in an election should be in office to supervise such election when the tenure has expired?
“Again, why would people be solely pushing for what suits them without considering the interests and feelings of the other side?
” Let it be known that it has caused me unimaginable energy and emotions persuading the other side to accept the one-year tenure additional and later three months extension of the NECOM simply IN THE INTEREST OF PEACE.
“As a person, I’ve done so much in dissuading the other side from taking retaliatory steps (such as holding a parallel NEC meeting in Lagos and appointing their own parallel acting president).
“That would have truncated the fragile peace ostensibly in place following the CRFFN intervention.
” We were all living witness to the bloodshed in Tincan. But the actions and disposition of some people including those who should ordinarily be called elders are more of personal emotional relationship with some candidates than encouraging the drive for truth and peace.
” I’ve said it severally that I, Taiwo Mustapha, am not crazy about being in ANLCA BOT or being its chairman but that I feel obligated to use whatever endowment which Almighty Allah has given me to strive for the return of peace to this Association in order to offer protection for our teeming members in the pursuit of their business, and our common heritage.
“Finally, I will not pick words with Ozor Chukwura on any platform against what he has released.
” Conscience is an open wound. As to the choice of Alhaji Abdulazeez, Babatunde Mukaila, his choice was arrived at after extensive consultations even as the opposite side had their misgivings that it’s a continuation of the same Farinto arrangement.
“But we were guided by the fact that beyond being a capable hand, he isn’t contesting in the coming NECOM election.
“He was ASECO chairman for years without any blemish. If Kayode Farinto is not seeing Mukaila Abdulazeez who has worked closely with him in the last five years as a capable hand to run the National Secretariat for the next few weeks, then something is missing.
“And I also state categorically clear that I, Taiwo Mustapha, is not working against Kayode Farinto.
“In conclusion, I call on all true lovers of ANLCA to keep their association in prayers for a quick return of peace to our boisterous Association.
“And also to pray that the recent interest by CUSTOMS CONSULTATIVE COUNCIL which meeting we are scheduled to attend next week will yield a wonderful dividend”
However, all efforts to get reaction of Alhaji Babatunde Mukaila to respond to the conflicting claims of the two warring sides over his choice as the Sole Administrator of ANLCA were frustrated by the taciturn posture of the Secretary-General of ANLCA.
When he picked up his calls after several declined calls, he retorted “No comment”
Not with the question if he was actually consulted or not as being counterclaimed by both gladiators, would make him change his hardline posture.