There is palpable tension and suspense as the Minister of Transportation, Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo holds meeting with the warring factions in the umbrella body of clearing agents in the country, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Thursday April 13, 2023.
Sambo’s decision to summon the meeting was not unconnected with the shoddy manner the Chairman of the Governing Council, Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN), Alhaji Tsanni Abubakar brokered peace in the five-years crisis in the association.
The meeting which was scheduled to take place at the conference of the Dipharima House, the corporate headquarters of the Ministry of Transportation, in the Central Business District (CBD), Abuja.
Already, members of the association from the two different factions have arrived the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) ahead of the meeting which is expected to give room for each faction to present their case before the minister.
Maritime Bits checks revealed that the warring factions have reached out to influential persons within and outside Dipharima House to ensure that they triumph at the crucial meeting.
It is expected that resolutions at the meeting will go a long way in addressing the grey areas that have dogged the leadership of ANLCA which was established since 1954.
The meeting is coming at the heels of allegations and counter allegations that have bedeviled the leadership of the association since the election of Anthony Iju Nwabunike as its National President over four years ago.
Initial thoughts that the intervention of CRFFN will usher in the much needed peace into Dikko House, the magnificent corporate secretariat of ANLCA in Amuwo Odofin, Lagos was shattered when members of the Board of Trustees (BOT) pulled out of the peace arrangement at a press conference in Lagos on Monday.
No fewer than three members of the Board of Trustees (BOT), Chief Ernest Elochukwu, Chief Dennis Okafor, and Mr. Dayo Azeez alleged that Abubakar’s intervention in the ANLCA crisis was not only fraudulent and bias but also bereft of equity, fairness and justice.
The former National President of ANLCA, Chief Ernest Elochukwu made it emphatically clear at the press briefing which was attended by numerous members of the association loyal to the group that the much touted peace and reconciliation carried out in ANLCA was a monumental fraud and an attempt to subjugate one party at the expense of the other faction.
He and other speakers alleged that the Acting President of ANLCA, Dr. Kayode Farinto had earlier held a closed door NEC meeting without the consent of the board where members of the executives took a decision to extend their tenure by three months.
They alleged that Farinto and his group also 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 expressed surprise that the Farinto and his group extended their stay in office again, instead of allowing the BOT take over administration of the association as stipulated by ANLCA constitution.
Giving reasons for the press briefing, Elochukwu disclosed that it was called by members of the registered ANLCA BOT who have not participated, either by presence or by communication with what is going on.
His words: “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. We also want to tell you that we are still intact. In fact, 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 path to peace should also recognize justice. There is no peace that would be done without justice”
He noted that the much touted peace which Abubakar has been going around was a wild goose chase since he lacked the attributes of a true arbiter just as he pointed out that it was a monumental fraud and an attempt to subjugate one faction at the expense of the other.
The former National President 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.
His words: “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, 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. He did not 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.
Continuing, he said: “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 Abubakar wanted, 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 since its outcome would not favor them. We also heard that he was instrumental to the CAC not responding to the police inquiries”.