FG to Proscribe ANLCA, As Customs Offer Last Lifeline, Calls Peace Meeting

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Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, Nigerian National Security Adviser

By DAPO OLAWUNI

There are indications that the Federal Government is ready to proscribe the crisis-ridden Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) even as the Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service, CGC Wale Adeniyi has issued a lifeline to the association to end it’s crisis through a resolution meeting summoned by the Customs Consultative Council.

Reliable sources within the customs confirmed to DAILY TREND that the National Security Adviser (NSA) Mallam Nuhu Ribadu at a recent meeting with the Customs CG, reportedly indicated the Federal Government resolve to proscribe ANLCA because the Bola Tinubu administration would not allow disruption of peace at the nation’s ports.

National Security Adviser, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu (left) and Comptroller General of Customs, Wale Adeniyi at a recent meeting

Recall that in October 2022, the crisis in ANLCA took a dangerous turn when hoodlums purportedly sent by one of the factions, attacked the chapter executives while they were holding a meeting. In the course of the attack, a prominent member of the association, Mr Wale Cole was attacked with machetes to the head and almost lost his life.

Speaking with our correspondent, a reliable source who pleaded anonymity, said that the Customs CG, pleaded with Ribadu and that the customs would resolve the ANLCA crisis within a shot time.

To this end, a crisis resolution Committee has been set up by the Customs Consultative Council. The committee according to findings, is headed by Aare Hakeem Olanrewaju.

The Committee is also made up of serving and retired Deputy Comptroller Generals (DCG) Assistant Comptroller General (ACG) past Presidents of ANLCA among other stakeholders.

The meeting is set to hold in Lagos Tuesday 18th, 2023.

The source told our correspondent that “ANLCA need to understand that this profession is not about them alone, it is about the Nigerian economy, and the federal government is aware of what is going on, the government cannot allow few selfish individuals because of selfish interests to destroy the collective goal of the nation. This job is an international profession.

“Remember that it is not only ANLCA that we have in the industry, we have other associations. ANLCA is lucky that the meeting with NSA did not hold with the former CGC, Hameed Ali who is a military man, or else, by now, they would have been Proscribed

“But the current CGC pleaded that, he would look into the matter, and that is why the CCC constituted this committee. We have sent out invitation to all the concerned gladiators in ANLCA for a meeting next week, in their own interest, I pray they give peace a chance” he said

Meanwhile, the two warring factions of the association have indicated interest to attend the customs meeting coming up next week.

DAILY TREND reports that the interventions of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) which brought about a short-lived peace in the association has also collapsed, even as there is an ongoing bickering among the BOT.

In the CRFFN resolution, mostly described as a “fragile peace” the Governing Board Chairman, Alhaji Tsanni Abubakar prevailed on the ANLCA factions to bring four candidates each to form the Board of Trustees (BOT)

At the end of the exercise, an 8-member board was inaugurated with Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha as the Chairman. The CRFFN also inaugurated the Association Electoral Committee (ASECO) to immediately conduct elections into the National Executive Committee (NECOM) following the expiry of the term of the incumbent.

In a press statement issued on Thursday by the BOT Chairman, Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha, he announced the dissolution of the NECOM whose tenure expired in April 2022 and has enjoyed elongation by 1year and 3 extra months.

The BOT announced Alhaji Babatunde Mukaila, the immediate past National Secretary as Sole Administrator for three months, so as to allow ASECO conduct credible election.

However, in a counter press release, the Vice Chairman of the BOT, Prince Ozo Chukwura said Taiwo Mustapha threw Mustapha u under the bus. According to him, the BOT chairman acted on his own and that there was no dissolution.

Ozo Chukwura said the controversial National Executive Council (NEC) held in Abuja on Wednesday, has further extended the tenure of the expired NECOM by another three months.

Responding to this, the BOT Chairman, Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha on Saturday morning issued another press release where he questioned the rational behind the NECOM, headed in Acting capacity by Dr Kayode Farinto, who is also a Presidential candidate in the coming election, has decided to remain in office.

Mustapha wrote:

“Dear ANLCA members,

May I seize this medium to extend warm greetings to you all especially those with sincere desire to see that an enduring peace returns to our great Association.

No doubt, the various platforms had been inundated with comments for and against the NECOM DISSOLUTION. Bearing in mind that leadership is a huge responsibility that demands commitment and sagacity to achieve common good goals, I make bold to further expantiate as follows;

1. The issue of NECOM dissolution had been discussed variously at physical meetings and via telephone conversations and the main reservation of few including the Vice Chairman had been the obvious difficulty of BOT members running the secretariat themselves. But we have to refer to norms and previous practices where the BOT had to decisions in the interest of the common good.

2. But beyond the puerile arguments of who was and wasn’t consulted, the critical issue is about adhering to the tenets of ANLCA Supreme Constitution as a pathfinder. Section 8 (subsection 2a & b) and I quote:

“EXTENSION OF TENURE:

Notwithstanding subsection (1) of this section, the National Executive Council shall have powers to extend its tenure in conjunction with the BOT as follows;

(a) In any case of emergency, for a period not more than 3 months.

(b) In any case of any of any controversy or deadlock arising from its inability to conduct an election or from an inconclusive election for 6 months only. But where the emergency or deadlock persist, the Board of Trustees will step in, dissolve and take over cum appoint Administrator to administer the office for a period not more than 6 months and conduct an election.” End of quote.

This matter was made explicitly clear during the meeting called on Monday 10th July 2023 hence it would not have required another meeting to implement it.

3. Beyond all these arguments, we should advert our minds to the moral issues involved. For instance, why is it so important that a contestant or contestants in an election should be in office to Supervise such election when the normal has expired? Again, why would people be solely pushed for what suits them without considering the interests and feelings of the other side? Let it be known that it has caused me unimaginable energy and emotions persuading the other side to accept the one year tenure additional and later three months extention of the NECOM simply IN THE INTEREST OF PEACE.

4. As a person, I’ve done so much in disuading the other side in taking retaliatory steps (such as holding a parallel NEC meeting in Lagos, and appointing their own parallel acting president). That would have truncated the fragile peace ostensibly in place following the CRFFN intervention. We were all living witness to the bloodshed in Tincan. But the actions and disposition of some people including those who should ordinarily be called elders aren’t are more of personal emotional relationship with some candidates than encouraging the drive for truth and peace.

5. I’ve said it severally that I, Taiwo Mustapha, am not crazy about being in ANLCA BOT or being its chairman but that I feel obligated to use whatever endowment which Almighty Allah has given me to strive for the return of peace to this Association in order to offer protection for our teeming members in the pursuit of their business, and our common heritage.

6. Finally, I will not pick words with Ozor Chukwura on any platform against what he has released. Conscience is an open wound. As to the choice of Alhaji Abdulazeez Babatunde Mukaila was arrived after extensive consultations even as the opposite side had their misgivings that it’s a continuation of same Farinto arrangement. But we were guided by the fact that beyond being a capable hand, he isn’t contesting in the coming NECOM election. He was ASECO chairman for years without any blemish. If kayode farinto is not seeing Mukaila Abdulazeez who has worked closely with him in the last five years as capable hand to run the National secretariat for the next few weeks, then something is missing. And I also state categorically clear that I Taiwo Mustapha is not working against kayode farinto.

7. In conclusion, I call on all true lovers of ANLCA to keep their Association in prayers for a quick return of peace to our boisterous Association. And also to pray that the recent interest by CUSTOMS CONSULTATIVE COUNCIL which meeting we are scheduled to attend next week will yield a wonderful dividend. We stand by our position, but I plead with all to drop our ego and come back to further discussion on the way forward.” the letter concluded

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