For more about two weeks now, the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has been in the news, this time around for wrong reasons as the trio who identified themselves as “Concerned Members of ANLCA” made some allegations against the key officers of the association namely; the National President and the National Secretary.
These disturbing allegations came barely few months after the National President; Prince Olayiwola Shittu managed to douse the tension brought about by the election of the National Executive of the association paving way for a successful election of the Board Chairman of the association which hitherto hit the rock.
You may be imagining what the writer is saying in this piece since he has not said anything.
Well, the matter is that a group masquerading under the name “Concerned Members of ANLCA” wrote a petition to the Chairman of the Board of Trustee of ANLCA entitled; “Disturbing Findings At ANLCA Headquarters” and copied some media houses alleging the following; that they had found out that the National Headquarters was being deserted by the elected National Officers due to the high handedness of the National President thus the National President and the National Secretary the ones running the affairs of the association.
That they discovered that there was no audited account of financial transactions at the headquarters in the last three years as according to them,” it was also discovered that monies received by the headquarters especially the over fifty million naira from the biometric exercise and several sums received from individuals and corporate bodies in respect of acquiring a permanent National Secretariat have not been accounted for by the National President”.
“We also found out that the ANLCA Constitution registered at the Corporate Affairs Commission by the National President and the General Secretary was a doctored version of the one approved by the association. Finally, we found out that the election that brought in the present National Executive Officers did not follow constitutional provisions. The National election which was supposed to be conducted at an Annual General Meeting (AGM) was conducted at 6.00 am, with only chapter executives voting”.
The group therefore went ahead to demand as follows;” that the Board of Trustees members as the custodians of the conscience of the association shall within one month from the date of this mail, do the following, (1) ensure that all the elected National Executive members return to their positions and perform their duties without hindrance. (2) Direct that an audit of the finances of the headquarters for the past three years be conducted. (3) Direct the National President to account for all monies received especially the over fifty million naira from the biometric exercise and the monies received from individuals and corporate bodies in respect of acquiring a permanent National Secretariat. (4) Direct the National President and the General Secretary to immediately withdraw the doctored version of ANLCA constitution from the Corporate Affairs Commission and replace it with the approved version. (5) Revisit the matter of the afore- mentioned serious constitutional breach in the election of the present National executive officers”.
Having articulated their demand, the group reminded that failure to meet the above named demands within the given period would compel them to go to court, to the media and to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) adding that they had documentary evidence and would be prepared to forward them to the Board of Trustees through its Chairman.
The petition was signed by Idris Abubakar as the Chairman, Obiora Okoli as the Secretary and Kayode Idowu as the Public Relations Officer (PRO).
On receiving the petition, the Chairman, Board of Trustees of ANLCA, Chief Henry Njoku, without recourse to the other members of the Board in a letter dated 13th February, 2015 addressed to the National President of ANLCA, Prince Olayiwola Shittu and titled, “Re: Disturbing Findings at ANLCA Headquarters” drew the attention of the President to that letter which was dated 27th January, 2015 with the above subject matter conveyed to the Board by Concerned Members of ANLCA pointing out that the letter raised serious and fundamental issues which demanded urgent and ultimate attention.
Njoku expressed that in line with the mandate of the Board, that efforts should be made at all times to ensure that peace and order reigns in the association so as to achieve the historical mandate of the association.
He went on to state that it was his view as the Chairman of the Board that the issues raised in the letter were too weighty to be glossed over as they were capable of eroding the dignity, confidence, trust and peaceful existence of the association.
“Consequently, I request you should within 2 weeks respond/address these matters with all the seriousness and promptness they deserve. Note that failure to do this will only be taken as acknowledgement of the truth of the issues raised”, Njoku stated in the letter.
Looking at the frenzies with which the BOT Chairman handled the issue of this letter without recourse to his members as only him did not constitute the Board of Trustees of ANLCA, one cannot but question whether or not the Board Chairman has any interest in this whole affair.
Furthermore, a closer look at signatories of the petition, one will notice that the signatories represented the three major tribes in the country, the first coming from the Hausa/Fulani tribe, the second coming from the Igbo stock and the final signatory coming from the Yoruba nationality, a thing to be grasp at.
Also, the information displayed in the petition cannot but be the handwork of an insider who must have worked very closely with the Prince Shittu led administration since its inception. Not that I am alluding to the truthfulness or otherwise of the allegations but one cannot be raising salient issues that bothered on the association which he claimed he is a member and be going by the name “Concerned ANLCA Member” as there is no name like “Concerned ANLCA Members” as well as the signatories to the petition as already pointed out by the National President of ANLCA himself.
Moreso, the National Secretary of ANLCA, Dr. Emmanuel Ogu Oparah in a rejoinder he sent to the Publisher/Editor of one of the Maritime Newspapers entitled,” Re: Fresh Crisis Rocks ANLCA”, while noting that much as the purported petition which gave rise to the whole saga was irresponsible, faceless and unnecessary, he described the eventual BOT Chairman’s reaction to what he called cheap lies as unfortunate.
Oparah disclosed that Prince Shittu led administration in line with his electioneering campaign promises in 2010 succeeded in giving the association a befitting permanent National Secretariat after sixty (60) years of existence instead of the old practice of sharing the money with a few thin gods (who live and feed on the association) was at the centre of what he called frivolous petition.
According to him,” the N250M ANLCA National Secretariat is a product of the collective efforts of all our members and the goodwill of some public spirited organizations in the industry that supported this initiative. Every Kobo contributed towards the realization of this project has been duly accounted and documented”.
The National Secretary added that the audited financial records of ANLCA National Secretariat submitted by E. R. Omojola & Co, a firm of external auditors as at 31st December, 2012 was there for interested members of the association to examine and draw appropriate conclusions.
“No such audited reports or financial recording in standard form for the period Nov. 2008 to April 2010 when some members of the present BOT were in-charge of affairs at the National was ever handed over to us on assumption of office on the 16th of April 2010 till date. You may wish to independently verify this fact”.
“Equally, a group of Chartered Accountants who looked at the association’s financial records up to Feb. 2014, preparatory to possible hand over to would be successor of Prince Shittu’s team prior to the April 2014 National Executive Committee (NECOM) election, returned a verdict of the association’s “spending more than it legitimately generated” within the period under review”.
“It was therefore surprising to read Prince Shittu in recent interview and collaborated by Dr. Frank Ukor of AREFFN in yet another interview that “you cannot be ANLCA President or even Chapter Chairman if you are poor”.
Again the ICPC (independent Corrupt Practices and other Related offences Commission) in late 2012 after thorough investigations of the so-called N50M Biometric Identity Card Project proceeds gave the Association a clean bill of health”, Oparah enumerated.
He noted that the above were but a few concrete facts that the barefaced lies of those he described as the so-called “Concerned ANLCA Members” saying that ANLCA membership indeed with pseudo names, no contact addresses or phone numbers or even verifiable evidence of individual cum corporate biometric identification.
He advised detractor to desist from causing trouble adding that, “if you must sponsor and orchestrate cheap and irresponsible lies against innocent and hardworking team like the present ANLCA NECOM, you must do it with some measure of decency and decorum”.
He warned,” the constitutional provisions in respect of the various organs of the association and their relative administrative competencies and limitations are quite clear. Let no organ assume or be seen to assume powers not expressly or implicitly conferred on her by the Supreme Constitution of ANLCA”
“If there is a genuine petition against anybody or organ, the petitioners should be courageous enough to defend their claims before appropriate Disciplinary Committee of the association before the committee’s report is eventually turned over to the National Executive Council (NEC) for appropriate sanctions”.
Having said the above, the questions remain, what are the petitioners in the said petition trying to achieve from the said petition? Are the petitioners or the petitioner trying to take a pound of flesh to avenge a perceived wrong done to him by the perceived enemies in the persons of the National President and Secretary? Are the purported petitioners actually in existence or a shield a high ranking officer in the association created to witch hunt his perceived enemies thus painting them black before the entire world? Well, whichever one it is, only time will tell as the drama begins to unfold and the entire picture is becoming clearer by the day.