…Appoints Oforbike, Oduntan, 5 Others to Run Administration
By DAPO OLAWUNI
A team of Nigerian police officers on the orders of the Inspector General of Police on Wednesday stormed the national secretariat of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) located at Amuwo Odofin, Festac Town, Lagos and sealed it off.
Chairman of the ANLCA registered Board of Trustees (BOT) Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha was on ground with BOT Secretary, Prince Taiye Oyeniyi, as well as other Western Zone leaders, and members of the association.
Meanwhile, Chief John Oforbike has been appointed to head a 7-man committee to administer the day-to-day running of the association.
Members of the committee are; John Oforbike, Segun Oduntan, Barrister Ada Akpunonu, Joe Sanni, Alhaji Sani from Kano chapter, and Chief Obi Chima from Onne chapter.
Mustapha told journalists that in line with ANLCA constitution, the BOT as custodians of all properties of the association have officially taken over the property and running of the association.
Recall that ANLCA has been in leadership crisis for the past three years, this culminated into a restraining order by Justice Aikawa of the Federal High Court in Lagos, that the National Executive Committee (NECOM) headed by Hon Tony Iju Nwabunike should stop parading themselves in office.
The NECOM however, allegedly violated this court order repeatedly.
This led to agitations among members of the association who called on the BOT to restore peace in the association in line with the ANLCA constitution.
To this end, all “illegal” occupants of the secretariat were on Wednesday chased out, while security officials have mounted permanent watch at the secretariat with express instruction not to allow anyone near the property.
Speaking, the BOT Chairman, Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha said the board has been very patient for several years trying to restore peace into the association, but the Tony Iju led NECOM kept frustrating the process.
“You are quite aware of the crisis we have been having in the last three years, it is unfortunate that up till now, we could not reach any compromise within ourselves. I have personally tried severally to bring peace back to ANLCA, I have spoken severally with Tony Iju, Henry Njoku, Kayode Farinto and even Mukaila, but all to no avail.
“The climax of the whole thing was when they had to invade Seme Border chapter recently, I looked at it that we cannot continue like this, despite the fact that they said, in their own idiotic manner, that they have expelled five of us who are BOT members out of the association, I kept cool for several months to see if somebody among them would be reasonable enough to call for peace.
“Rather than do this, they kept breaking and violating the law, and I looked at it that I would not wait until somebody’s head is cut off before I react, this was reason for this mobilisation, this would be the end.
“It is either we come together to seat and agree within ourselves, or nobody would ever have access or peace within this secretariat, our boys are determined, we have tried a lot to press them down, but I can no longer press anyone down at this stage” he said
Mustapha corrected that the Tony Iju administration no longer have any tenure in office, and that they were only operating illegally.
According to him, the court order have already suspended them from office, so the issue of them going to Owerri to carryout constitution amendment to elongate their tenure does not hold.
Speaking further, he said that “In the last three years, money has been coming into the National purse, what have they done with it? Who have accounted for it? There are lots of things that have gone wrong, but we kept cool, thinking that one day, we would be able to talk within ourselves.
“It is unfortunate that I have so much hope in the person of Tony Iju, because I have always seen him as my personal friend, and I kept telling everyone that we should give him the necessary corporation, but rather than get the same reaction from him, it was getting worse.
“My message to all ANLCA members nationwide is that, we have taken this step today, not because anyone wants to break the law, but because we want to hold the hand of the oppressors.
ANLCA members have been oppressed for three years and I have been calming them down.
“My ultimate goal is to see peace, reconciliation back in ANLCA, and to see all of us seating and eating together, I still see them as my brothers and sisters, but where they continue to behave otherwise, we cannot continue to accommodate any animalistic tendencies in the association.
Mustapha said the composition of the police men who were present at the secretariat were from IG Team, AIG Team and the Area Commander Team.
“Their primary mandate is that in case our boys try to go out of hand, they would ensure peace and orderliness.
The BOT has constitutionally taken over the day to day running of this association from today until further notice” he said
While disclosing the next line of action, he said the BOT is putting in place a seven man committee that would be running the association on daily basis, and this is going to be headed by John Oforbike.
According to him, the BOT still remains the highest organ in the association, and its ultimate goal is to see peace back in the ANLCA.
Even though elections are supposed to have been conducted in February 2022 to give way for fresh elected officers into the NECOM, Mustapha said this would not happen for now.
“The issue of election would not come immediately, but if we see that, probably the other party are not ready for any reconciliation, we would continue to keep the Secretariat locked up, then we go back to court, until they are able to resolve it.
“In the next two weeks, our aim is to keep this place locked up so as to avoid any blood bath, while we wait to see any opening for reconciliation from the other party, if this does not happen, then we have every constitutional right to put in place the interim government properly to start working from this secretariat. For now, the seven man committee takes effect immediately” he said
Also speaking with journalists, Sir John Oforbike declared his acceptance of the new appointment given to him by the BOT.
“I was the one that gave the contact of late Dikko Inde through whom the secretariat was secured, people who were not part of us have succeeded in killing the place.
“I am very grateful to ANLCA most of the time and till I die, I am like a biro in the hands of ANLCA, anywhere they place me for the survival of the association, I would continue to do that.
“If the board has chosen me to be part of those who would bring ANLCA back to the part of progress, I am willing to accept that position” he said
Oforbike described the ANLCA Secretariat as a gift handed down to members through former Comptroller General of Customs, Dikko Inde Abdullahi and its former National President, Prince Olayiwola Shittu.
Speaking, he said “Our people have been calling us names, they want to forcefully come in and take over this secretariat, but we have been calming them down, and I want to thank the police for doing a good job in ensuring law and order”
He urged the police to sustain the lockup of the secretariat until final determination of the court case.
Oforbike was sworn in along with Tony Iju as Western Zone Cordinator on 15th of April 2018, his tenure in office was originally meant to expire April 2022.
However as a law abiding citizen, Oforbike said he had stepped aside immediately after the Federal High Court restraining order which directs the NECOM to stop parading themselves in office.
“I am happy that the law has taken its course by locking up this place, they (old NECOM) said there is no law, and that the system of the Judiciary is very slow, and that is why they were doing all what they did”
Also speaking, Alhaji Rilwan Amuni popularly known as June 12, Taskforce chairman of ANLCA at Tin Can chapter stated that members of the association are grateful to the BOT for returning the association on part of progress.
“What is happening here today is long overdue, there was crisis in the association, some members decided to go to court, and the court decided that in the interim, there should be a restraining order, and that nobody should parade themselves as a NECOM member.
“However, the people occupying this secretariat flouted the law, they did not obey the court order, they kept parading themselves and conducting elections which they were not supposed to do.
“So, we felt, if this should be the case, the secretariat is our common heritage, maybe if we fight it out, the government would intervene.
“But today, as we were carrying on, we saw police men coming in to solve the problem, we are happy that there is no loss of life.
“Some people have been playing with our destiny and our finances, shutting this place down is to let everyone return to their offices, but by allowing them to remain in the secretariat, they would believe that they have the legitimate right to be here.
“The constitution says the BOT takes over when there is crisis in the association, the beauty of it is that the document of the secretariat is not in their hand, it is with the BOT, so what claim do they have?” Amuni concluded