ANLCA Crisis: No Respite for Tony Iju’s NECOM, As Court Orders Arbitration with Registered BOT

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By DAPO OLAWUNI

A Federal High Court of Nigeria in the Lagos Judicial Division has further validated the Registered Board of Trustees of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) led by Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha, ordering that the court-suspended National Executive Committee (NECOM) should explore arbitration in the lingering crisis that engulfed the association since 2018.

This has further truncated the soft landing that the suspended NECOM under Hon Tony Iju were banking on, one week after the BOT had taken over and shutdown the national secretariat as its rightful custodian.

Contrary to a sponsored report in an online media that the recent order of Justice P. O. Lifu (JP) of the Federal High Court in Lagos signaled an end to existence of the registered BOT under its chairman, Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha, the court order signed 22nd of February 2022 actually emboldened the position of the board.

This is according to the Court documents, with suit No: FHC/L/CS/599/2020 with Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha, Chief Dennis Okafor and Prince Taiye Oyeniyi as Plaintiff/ Respondents and Registered Trustees of ANLCA, Tony Nwabunike and Chief Henry Njoku as Defendants/ Applicants. And also Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) joined as Defendant/ Respondent.

The presiding Judge, Justice P. O. Lifu (JP) hereby ordered as follows:
1. That a stay of further proceeding in this suit is hereby ordered pending the activation and conclusion of arbitral proceedings by the parties in accordance with Article 26 of the parties ie 1st Defendant Constitution.

2 That this suit is hereby adjourned Sine die pending arbitration. Issued at Lagos , under the hand of the seal of this Honourable court this 1st day of Febuary 2022.”

WHAT THIS IMPLIES

Recall that the NECOM had earleir filed an application to the Federal High Court in the ongoing legal battle, arguing that section 26 of the ANLCA constitution mandated that any member that wanted to go to court must first explore arbitration so that the dispute can be settled instead of going to court.

They had pleaded that since the section had not been explored, the court should refer the matter to arbitration, and that they were sure that it would be settled within the association.

This led to the court suspending the case Sine Die, and agreed that both parties should embrace arbitration.

Speaking with DAILY TREND NEWS, a member of the legal team of the registered BOT explained that “In case we could not settle out of court, we would have to go back to the court. So the court judgement is not the end of the application”

“The suit was instituted by the BOT because they (NECOM) were trying to challenge the registration of the BOT which was done at Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC)

“The had gone to hold a kangaroo meeting with the CAC lying that all the parties and signatories concerned are involved, as a result, they made the CAC to write a letter that they want to withdraw the certificate and that the board should submit the certificate.

“So, the board had gone to court to nullify that process. It is a cardinal principle of law that in any dispute or any discussion, all the parties involved must be heard.

“They went to the CAC without giving the board of trustees any notice of the meeting, they went to represent themselves at the meeting, claiming that all the parties involved are present at the meeting and that they were ready to cancel the BOT registration.

“The CAC acting on that deceit, wrote a letter to the BOT. But we replied that it is not so, the registration is valid, and that is we approached the court to nullify that kangaroo meeting that they held with CAC.

“There is no such thing like the suit has come to an end, the court only said we should go and see if we can settle through arbitration.
But it shows clearly that these people are not ready for any settlement” he said

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