…As Justice Osiagor Calls for Establishment of Interim Exco
By DAPO OLAWUNI
There are indications that the tenure elongation plans of the Tony Iju Nwabunike led executives of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) may have hit a brickwall, this is even as the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos has called for setting up of an interim executives for the association.
The tenure of the Tony Iju led National Executive Committee (NECOM) of ANLCA is expected to end officially in February 2022. However, even though the executives have since been ordered to stop parading themselves in office by the Federal High Court in Lagos, thereby leaving control and direction of ANLCA into the hands of the registered BOT, the NECOM have flagrantly disobeyed the order.
The NECOM also recently announced that its tenure would no longer end in February 2022 as stated in the ANLCA constitution,and that it has been extended till 2023 following a review of the constitution in 2020 at Owerri, Imo State.
Statutorily, the NECOM has a tenure of four years in office. Tony Iju and his team were sworn into office in 2018.
At the resumed hearing of a court case on the protracted leadership crisis in the association on Wednesday, the presiding Judge, Hon Justice Daniel Osiagor advised both parties in the crisis; the Registered Board of Trustees (BOT) of ANLCA and the National Executive Committee (NECOM) should nominate members to form the interim executives with a mandate to conduct fresh elections into ANLCA national body.
Justice Osiagor noted that this was the best wayout of the 4-year old crisis in the Customs brokers association, more so, when all attempts to settle out of court has been failing.
Speaking earlier, Counsel to the ANLCA Registered BOT, Olu Daramola (SAN) intimated the Judge that sequel to his last adjournment in December 2021 where he asked both parties to go and agree on terms for out of court settlement, the Tony Iju’s executives and its Counsel have been playing pranks and employing delay tactics.
“I want to inform the court that the both parties were unable to meet because the defendant appear to have misled us to think that they wanted settlement in this matter.
“Immediately after the seating at the last adjourned date, despite the fact that the defendants were represented, I wrote a letter to the Counsel to the defendant, asking them to let us know when we can meet.
“But as a I speak, we have not gotten a reasonable response from them. We then decided that we should communicate our demands and decisions to them in writing, while they too communicate that of their clients to us.
“But on the contrary, they went ahead to start doing what they have been restrained by this court not to do. As early as this year, they set up an illegal committee, conducted elections at the Airport chapter and extended their tenure
“When we filed an application before the court and itemised all the infractions they have done in breech of the order of this court, their response was that the Order made by this court has expired” he said
Daramola stated that it was obvious that Counsel to the NECOM was being controlled by his clients, hence, he could cannot control or give proper direction on the case.
“If the defendants Counsel are in control of their clients the way I am handling mine, we wouldn’t be here, but rather it is their clients controlling them and this is the truth” he added.
Appearing on behalf of the NECOM was Barr Romeo Ese Michael who stated that the Counsel was not aware that Tony Iju NECOM conducted any elections or elongated their tenure by one year.
He explained that the NECOM have received the terms of settlement sent by the BOT, and that they only recently responded with their own demands.
He subsequently pleaded for a 1-month adjournment for him to further engage the Counsel to ANLCA Registered BOT in order to have a robust settlement out of court.
Speaking on the settlement, Barr Michael said “We got the letter from the learned Silk, with an attached letter from the plaintiffs (BOT) proposing terms of settlement. We filed it to our clients (NECOM) and they have responded to us, we got it late, around last week.
We are hoping to do a letter attaching our clients proposal back to them.
“There is hope for settlement.
I have always said that this case is best resolved between the parties rather than the court coming into the matter
“My lord, I want to ask for one month adjournment since we have two learned Silk on this matter, they are all gentlemen, the two should work on their clients.
After this court today, I would meet with the great Silk here, there is an alternative at which peace can be achieved” the NECOM Counsel pleaded
Also joining in the ongoing case, Barr Yakubu Oladimeji who appeared for the 1st defendant and 25th to 30th defendant corroborated the registered BOT Counsel, saying that all efforts made at settlement out of court has consistently failed.
Hon Justice Daniel Osiagor subsequently directed both Counsel to go and work on their clients very well, and to eschew ego.
“The two of you should try and meet again, but if it fails, I am here, but I know it would work”
“All of you should combine and form interim exco and conduct election. I think this is the best bet, both sides should bring representations, between six of them, they can nominate their Chairman or President who would now conduct the needed elections
“I repeat, it is better to set an interim government that would carry out an election” he stressed
He adjourned the case till 26th of April as day of settlement and definite hearing.