From left: National President, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA, Hon. Iju Tony Nwabunike, Vice President, Dr. Kayode Farinto and former Zonal coordinator, Western Zone, Prince Ozo Chukwura during a media conference in Lagos, Thursday.

The Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents ANLCA has dismissed insinuations in some quarters that the current challenges facing the association in the last two and half years are ethnic in nature. The association says that some people just decided to distract the National Executive Council NECOM, which was elected March 8, 2018 and inaugurated April 14, 2018.

Recall that the crisis had begun on the eve of the inauguration of the new NECOM, precisely on April 13, 2018 when some members of the Board of Trustees BOT claimed that they had sacked the then chairman, Chief Henry Njoku, purporting that since the new President is of South East origin, the region should also not produce the BOT chairman.

National President of the association, Hon. Iju Tony Nwabunike who addressed a media conference in Lagos, Thursday in company of his Vice, Dr. Kayode Farinto, National Secretary, Mukaila Azeez and former Zonal Coordinator, Western Zone, Prince Ozor Chukwura, among others, noted that the skirmishes in the association in the last few years have no tribal bias in any form or shape.

Nwabunike, who admitted that he had allowed himself to be distracted, having bent over backwards to ensure that peace reigned in the association, including recalling some members who abused him on pages of national newspapers in an effort to enthrone a lasting, however said that the NECOM has resolved to move forward henceforth.

According to him, under the immediate past leadership of the association led by Prince Olayiwola Shittu, Taiwo Mustafa was coordinator of the BOT while under Ernest Elochukwu as National President, Henry Njoku was the chairman of the BOT and no one raised any ethnic sentiment in both cases.

He noted that anyone still saying that the challenges in the association in the last two and half years when he assumed duty as President are ethnic in nature was merely being mischievous and untruthful to himself and the association as a whole.

“My Vice President is a Yoruba man likewise the National Secretary and even the National Financial Secretary, who is a Yoruba woman and there is no disagreement between any of us. My Chief of Staff is also a Yoruba man, so where is the ethnicity in all of these?

“You will see that they just want to distabilise us. We have done everything humanly possible to enthrone peace but they thwarted all those efforts, they have instituted over eight court cases and we have not instituted any, they call us unprintable names and yet we kept quiet, I remain the most insulted and abused National President of ANLCA and I swallowed all those insults but I think, enough is enough.

“Only recently, they sent thugs armed with sophisticated weapons such as AK47 assault rifle, pistols, machetes and charms to invade the secretariat. Their mission was to come there and kill and maim us but God did not allow it, so these people are not joking”, he said.

The Vice President, who also spoke during the well-attended conference, disclosed that the NECOM has decided to move forward henceforth. According to him, plans are being concluded to conduct fresh elections into the BOT, as the tenure of the immediate past BOT elapsed since January 8, 2020.

He also cited a judgment by a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos which dissolved the BOT made up of Henry Njoku Ernest Elochukwu, Iju Tony Nwabunike, late Aare Sanni Shittu, Taye Oyeniyi, Dayo Abdulaziz, Taiwo Mustapha, Dennis Okafor and Peter Obi and ordered the NECOM not to recognise any BOT until an election has been properly conducted in line with the laws.

The judgment was sequel to originating summons dated and filed July 27, 2018 in the suit no. FHC/L/CS1274/2018 brought before the court by Sky Sail Nigeria Limited and Chief Peter Obi, a BOT member as plaintiffs and in which the Registered Trustees of ANLCA, Iju Tony Nwabunike and Taiwo Mustafa were all joined as respondents/defendants.

The presiding judge, Justice R.M. Aikawa, who delivered judgment granted the three reliefs sought by the plaintiffs, which includes that the purported members of the BOT of ANLCA, who allegedly changed its leadership on April 13, 2018 is illegal, null and void and of no effect.

The court also held that any replacement or appointment of additional trustee made without the consent of the Corporate Affairs Commission CAC is void.

The Justice also declared that it is only when the CAC gives its assent upon application by ANLCA that any appointment of a trustee can be valid and barred the NECOM from recognising any BOT member

He warned that the macabre dance was over and that NECOM would not allow itself distracted any longer, insisting it was time to make real progress, adding that the BOT elections ought to have held before now but for the COVID-19 pandemic, which shut down the world.

On the way forward, the National President disclosed that over three persons have already collected nomination forms for the BOT elections slated before the end of the year, adding that the likes of Taiwo Mustafa, Denis Okafor, Taiye Oyeniyi and other feuding members could pick nomination forms to participate in the forthcoming elections.