By DAPO OLAWUNI
A large number of youths under the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) on Wednesday stormed the sealed National Secretariat of the association at Inde Dikko House, Amuwo Odofin Lagos, demanding fresh elections into the National Executive Committee (NECOM) and exit of the Tony Iju led executives.
It would be recalled that the association’s secretariat was sealed by the police on February 16, 2022 based on the registered Board of Trustees (BoT) petition which alleged impunity and disregard of court orders on the part of the NECOM.
The Secretariat was thereafter shutdown on instructions of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Usman Alkali Baba and Assistant Inspector General of police Adeyinka Adeleke in order to maintain rule of law.
The ANLCA youths who stormed the National Secretariat in large numbers, chanting solidarity songs, carried placards with different inscriptions like; “Police Please Don’t Open this Secretariat until Court Gives Verdict”; “Unless the Court Decides, Secretariat remains Locked” “Tony Iju 4-Years of Backwardness in the Industry” and so on.
Spesking with newsmen at the protest, Taskforce Chairman of Tin Can Port Chapter, Alhaji Rilwan Amuni said the youths have been hearing some rumours that police were trying to re-open the National Secretariat and this would further fuel the frayed tempers in the association.
He stated that all the youths are demanding is for fresh elections into thr NECOM, following the expiration of the Hon Tony Iju led executives.
“There is an existing court order that says the NECOM should stop parading themselves as executive officers, when we found out that the suffering was getting too much, we had to demand that the Secretariat be sealed
“But unfortunately, we are hearing rumors that the police is trying to re-open the Secretariat for the NECOM, we would not accept that
“The only condition to reopen the Secretariat is for the court cases to be decided, and we would abide by the court ruling.
“The second alternative is for both sides to chose 4-persons from both sides and appoint a chairman that would steer the affairs of ANLCA for one year before elections.
“It is unfortunate that all the people that occupied this secretariat for the past four years do not know how this secretariat was acquired.
“The work of the BOT is to come into the picture when there is crisis and they set up ASECO (Association Electoral Committee) this is their duty in case they don’t know, it is in the constitution, the board should set up ASECO and let’s have fresh blood in the leadership.
“We have suffered a lot under the leadership of Tony Iju, let him come and tell us what he has achieved. On the customs VIN Valuation, he has not uttered any statement, and he says he is President
Alhaji Amuni maintained that the tenure of Tony Iju has expired in the month of March 2022.
Also speaking with newsmen, Taskforce chairman of PTML Chapter of ANLCA, Comrade Odita Harrison warned that if the National Secretariat is reopened without determination of the court cases, it could spell trouble.
“We have been hearing rumors that some people want to come and re-open the Secretariat that has been sealed, as long as the case is still in court, we don’t want to see anybody here, we would not accept it until the matter is settled.
“If they do otherwise, we would also do otherwise” he said
Also speaking, another youth, Mr Abideen Majuigbe said the youths in the association are disappointed at the so-called elders of ANLCA who allowed the internal crisis to fester for so long.
“We are surprised that the so called elders in ANLCA cannot call themselves together and allow peace to reign, they are the ones destroying the chances of the younger generations, we need them to come together, but if they refuse to do that, there would be a great problem, we the youths would go against them.
“Even husband and wife disagree at home and they settle it, so why are they making things so hard for us?
Giving assessment of Tony Iju’s four years in office, Mr Majuigbe said the President was a round peg in a square hole.
On his part, Mr Solomon Osea lamented how the ANLCA Crisis has affected the members operationally, saying that ordinary members are at the receiving end.
“We are not happy with what is happening in our association, they said a leader is supposed to lead, but right now we are not seeing anything, when it comes to associations in the sector, they are the last.
“The court has shut this place, let it remain closed until the next person comes to take over.
“Speaking on how the crisis has affect members operationally, he said the agents on the field are most affected. “When the man and wife are fighting, the children suffer it
“For more than three weeks now, we went on strike over the VIN Valuation policy of the Nigeria Customs Service, we stood as youths and fought it,we expected our association to go a step further to the corridor of power, liaise with the government and by so doing, we would not face these challenges” he stated.
The involvement of the Nigeria Police Force in the ANLCA imbroglio was sequel to a petition by the registered BoT to the IGP to request for police protection on the ANLCA National Secretariat with a view to allowing for lawful resolution of the crisis that has engulfed the association in the past three years; through the enforcement of court rulings.
The BoT Chairman, Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha who spoke with press men on his assessment of the police conduct in respect of the sealed secretariat, said he was very impressed and expressed the hope that the ongoing enforcement will lead to a speedy resolution of all court cases attending the crisis; and also help to end the crisis once and for all.
Mustapha lamented that lack of enforcement of court rulings has largely contributed to the protracted crisis which emboldened lawless elements in the association to trample on the laws, and to perpetuate themselves in office contrary to court judgments.
Tony Iju was elected into office on 8th of March 2018.