The crisis rocking the Association of Registered Freight Forwarders Nigeria has taken another dimension as the members of the association’s Board of Trustees (BOT) has shifted the battle ground to the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN).
Recall that the Board had earlier in reaction to a letter written to the embattled President of AREFFN, Dr. Frank Ukor by the Registrar of CRFFN, Sir Mike Jukwe to the effect that he (Ukor) is the President recognized by the Council called on Jukwe to resign.
This time around, the Board in a letter to CRFFN Registrar signed by the Board Secretary, Mr. Innocent Elum, wants Jukwe to account for over N3 billion grant the federal government had given the Council thus far saying that armed with fact, it would soon approach the Ministry of Transportation, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for his possible prosecution.
Below is the details of the letter to Sir Mike Jukwe.
Re: Recognition of Dr. Frank Ukor as authentic President of AREFFN: Why you goofed
AREFFN finds it difficult to believe that the newspaper reports dealing with the above subject matter are correct. But, if they are, then we make bold to say that you have shown no sense of justice in handling the issue. A person of your position should be one imbued with the sanctity of fair mindedness; but you haven’t demonstrated that virtue in this case, quite regrettably.
Several times in the past , we had written to inform you of the expiry of Dr. Frank Ukor-led Presidency and his clear intention to perpetuate himself in office after ten (10) whole years. You had neither replied any of our letters nor did you show any active interest in the crisis while it was still in the bud. Recall that Dr. Boniface Aniebonam, Founder NAGAFF, had also brought the matter to your attention in August, 2016 and nothing had come from you in form of advice or directive.
It is disappointing, therefore that you could sit in your office, listen to only Dr. Ukor and decide to issue him a letter recognizing him as current president after he has served out his tenure without hearing a word from us. That action of yours is not only a flagrant violation of the sacred natural justice principle of Audi Alteram Patem (hear the other party out) but also an exercise in infantilism. We are at a loss as to what Dr. Ukor must have tempted you with to take such a questionable action that obviously demeans your person and Office.
The fact of the matter remains that Dr. Ukor’s 5 -year tenure terminated on the 11th August, 2017, that being the date he was sworn into office in 2012. The Board, of which Dr. Ukor is also a member , met the same date, with Ukor in attendance, and assumed management of the association’s affairs in line with relevant laws and conventions. The Board in the meeting, with no dissension from Dr. Ukor, approved the appointment of Alhaji Bala Lawan Daura as an interim president for one year. In fact, it was Dr. Ukor himself who nominated Daura for the appointment. It was also Dr. Ukor who had previously and single handedly appointed same Daura as one chapter chairman without the knowledge of the Board. The Board was to subsequently ratify the appointment.
Registrar Sir, kindly tell us what you would have done if you were in our shoes. Dr. Ukor had refused, neglected or failed to remember that there would be an election at the end of his tenure, had strategically remained so forgetful for five years until the tenure came to an end apparently because of his Mugabe intention. Should we have left our association on autopilot mode or without leadership when Dr. Ukor’s plan failed and the Board took over? Would you do so to CRFFN?
While we leave you to ponder that, let us state that Dr. Ukor was to make a u-turn from the Board’s decision regarding Alhaji Daura’s appointment much later. He had come up with an irredentist objection, giving no other reason than that he would not let a Northerner head an organization he participated in forming at the national level. He had on several occasions called the attention of other Board members (Ejike Metu and my humble self) to his sentiment, reminding us of how President Buhari from the North had excluded all Igbo from his Cabinet, saying at each time that we should wake up. However, as citizens with nationalistic mindset, we failed to see how AREFFN internal affairs were coterminous with national political issues and, therefore, refused to buy his tribalistic ideas. That was the beginning of our troubles.
Having said all of this Mr. Registrar, permit us to make a submission: Where a person’s right stops is where another’s begins. And where the facts are clear, argument of necessity takes the back seat. It is not in contention that the the CRFFN Act empowers you to regulate the freight forwarding industry, but it is clear that that the Act does not empower you to usurp the powers and functions of associations’ Boards of Trustees; and if it does, it is to that extent null and void and of no effect for where there is a conflict between extant and regulatory laws, the extant law prevails. The Board of Trustees of AREFFN has in line with relevant laws appointed Alhaji Bala Lawan Daura to hold office for one year. If Dr. Ukor as one of the three members of the Board has any objection to the appointment, it is a mere minority objection that cannot in law and in fact prevail over majority decision of the Board. This position is no doubt consistent with the democratic principles you copiously espoused in your letter to Dr. Frank, albeit in the breach.
We have advised Dr. Ukor to challenge the legitimacy of the Board’s decision in court if he so wishes. We extend the same advice to you Mr. Registrar to join CRFFN in the suit should Dr. Ukor decide to take the legal option. Until that is done and judgment given in his favour, he is only a former President and your recognition of him as current one remains an exercise in over reach of your official remit and, therefore, a nullity.
That being the case, we shall be left with no other option but to arrest Dr. Ukor for impersonation should he continue to fraudulently hold himself out as our President.
Sir, just by the way, we are minded to wonder whether you have not overstayed in office as CRFFN Registrar. This is ten (10) good years since you assumed office in 2007 when the CRFFN Act was enacted, just like Dr. Ukor of AREFFN who became President of the Association in 2007 when the association was born. It becomes very easy to extrapolate from the identical history that you too may be planning to stay in office for life like your AREFFN counterpart. But time has indeed come, as in the case of Dr. Ukor, for you to give account of the over N3Billion grant from the Federal Government to the Council thus far. Make no mistake about it Sir; we have our facts. But it is a story for another day that we shall soon take up with Ministry of Transport, Shippers’ Council and possibly Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
In the light of the foregoing, we demand that you withdraw with immediate effect your tendentious and invidious letter to Dr. Ukor. Take notice that unless you do so and copy our Board as evidence of compliance, we shall not hesitate to take an action against you for illegally interfering in our internal matters beyond your regulatory powers.
Please expedite action in your own best interest.
Innocent F.E.D Elum, L.L B Hons, Acff, Rff (AREFFN Board Secretary).
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