….Transport Minister Steps in, Summons Gladiators for meeting in Abuja
By DAPO OLAWUNI
Barely one month after the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) brokered peace in the five-years crisis in the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) there are fresh indications that the centre is no longer holding as members of the Board of Trustees (BOT) have pulled out of the peace arrangement.
Speaking at a press conference in Lagos on Monday, three of the BOT members, Chief Earnest Elochukwu, a former President of ANLCA, Chief Dennis Okafor, and Mr Dayo Azeez alleged that CRFFN actions in the ANLCA crisis was fraudulent, a travesty of justice and unacceptable.
According to them, the much touted peace and reconciliation which the Chairman of the CRFFN, Alhaji Tsanni Abubakar has carried out in ANLCA is a monumental fraud and an attempt to subjugate one party in the dispute, in the interest of another party.
The BOT members also alleged that the Acting President of the association, Dr Kayode Farinto last week held a closed door NEC meeting without consent of the board where the exco decided to extend their tenure by three months.
The BOT also alleged that the Acting President and his group at the secret meeting, increased membership of the newly formed Association Electoral Committee (ASECO) from four members to seven members with only members from his faction.
According to them, the tenure of the NECOM expired in April 16th 2022, while their fraudulently extended tenure of five years supposed to expire by April 16th 2023. The BOT members however expressed surprise that the tenure extended their stay in office again, instead of allowing the BOT take over administration of the association as stipulated by the constitution.
Speaking for the group, Chief Earnest Elochukwu who summoned the press conference announced that the Minister of Transportation has called all parties and players in ANLCA crisis for a meeting in Abuja on April 13th, 2023.
Elochukwu said “this press conference was called by myself and Chief Dennis Okafor as members of the registered BOT of ANLCA who have not participated, either by presence or by communication with what is going on.
The essence is to let you people know that the monumental fraud that is going on now in the name of reconciliation in ANLCA, we are not part of it.
“We also want to tell you that our members who have been railroaded into it are also not part of it, and to tell you that we are still intact, nothing has happened to us”
“Considering the long time that this crisis has taken, any move for peace is welcomed, but then, the question is what methodology is being employed? There are many kinds of peace, there is peace of harmony, there is peace of tranquility, we have a soothing peace and there is peace of the grave yard
“We believe that a part to peace should also recognize justice, there is no peace that would be done without justice”
“The much touted peace which the Chairman of the CRFFN, Alhaji Tsanni Abubakar has been going around with is a monumental fraud and an attempt to subjugate one party in the dispute, in the interest of another party” he said
Elochukwu recalled that in January 2023, the Nigerian Police had stepped into the ANLCA crisis and the factions in the crisis were already in talks on how to resolve the crisis amicably before CRFFN stepped in to disturb the process.
“There was already a process of jointly forming the Association Electoral Committee (ASECO) and to move into holding an election. The police said they were going to write the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to confirm the status of the original board that would conduct the election
“As at that time, the status checked in the CAC showed that we are the registered board. Apparently because they have other agenda, they never brought their nominations for ASECO, rather we started hearing about AGM.
“The first attempt to hold the AGM in Warri, we stopped it, they later brought it to Lagos, we thought they would come back for us to continue on the reconciliation journey we were going, the next thing we heard was CRFFN coming into the matter”
“At the eve of that AGM, Alhaji Tsanni Abubakar used people in high places to intimidate, bamboozle, cajole and arm twist our BOT Chairman, Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha to come and tow their line.
“When somebody is interested in mediation, you must interact and hear from both factions, Tsanni didn’t do this, he already took sides by speaking with 250 people from one faction, rather than the over 2,000 members of ANLCA nationwide.
“The Chairman of CRFFN meant no good for ANLCA, talk less of reconciliation.
“About eight months ago, a reconciliation committee was set up by CRFFN headed by one Alhaji Abba to resolve the ANLCA crisis, the committee came out with a report, and because the report did not go the way Tsanni wanted, in favor of his co-conspirators, the report ended in the archives.
“For him to suddenly wake up and say he is calling for an AGM, we knew he was acting a script that was already written, which is to first truncate the police settlement, they have seen that the outcome of that police settlement would not favor them.
We also heard that he was instrumental to the CAC not responding to the police inquiries.
“When the AGM was called, we complained by writing the CRFFN Chairman and we wrote the ministry of Transportation supervising the CRFFN. We are happy that the ministry has scheduled a meeting for 13th of April in Abuja” he said
While fielding questionns from the newsmen, Chief Elochukwu said the BOT wants peace in ANLCA, but that it must be a peace that would be based on justice, equity and fair play.
He knocked the CRFFN Chairman for threatening to withdraw ANLCA certificate of registration, adding that the association cannot be cowed into submission with threat of proscribing it. He said Nigeria operates a democracy whereby the rule of law would determine such matters.
Chief Elochukwu said “We would not allow CRFFN to be used to terrorize ANLCA, the Council was more or less our product, we know what we did to get that Act into being, so, that same masquerade we created should not turn around and be flogging us”
He also kicked against various requirements by CRFFN that contestants and voters in the upcoming ANLCA elections must have a diploma in freight forwarding.
Also speaking at the press conference which was well attended by ANLCA Western Zone members, another member of the BOT who was present at the CRFFN reconciliation meeting, Mr Dayo Azeez, said that he was comfortable with the arrangements of CRFFN until he realized that the Council was biased.
He revealed that the Acting President, Kayode Farinto and his members holding a meeting last week to extend their tenure in office showed that they were not being truthful to the Peace Accord.
Mr Azeez assured that the Chairman of the BOT, Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha was already aware of the press conference and he is hundred percent in support of it.
“I want to assure you that Taiwo Mustapha who is the Chairman of the board is in Saudi Arabia presently, but he is aware of this meeting, we have communicated with him and he gave his consent
“Why I am pulling out of this arrangement is because around Wednesday last week, a meeting was held, we were not informed and some decisions were taken to extend their tenure for three months. They once extended their tenure for one year, but right now, it is the BOT that would take over.
“At that meeting, they also extended the ASECO members to seven, and only their own members were present, we cannot take it” Mr Azeez stated