At the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents(ANLCA), the center can no longer hold. There is an old parable which says a house divided against itself cannot stand. That appears to be the situation at the moment for the foremost customs licensed agents. But if the revelation in this interview is anything to go by, then Tony Iju’s led faction is being hunted in vein. And could sway the pendulum of justice at the court of CRFFN.
This is not the first time ANLCA would be drawn into internal crisis, but this particular one seems to be different from the rest, because it is seemingly amorphous as each party is claiming legal ownership of the embattled association. But beyond the claims are numerous other intervening factors.
In this interview with MMS Plus,the Secretary of ANLCA, Alhaji Babatunde Abdulahi Mukaila explains the circumstances that have given rise to the present quagmire the association finds itself and other contentious issues. Why the Taiwo Afolabi -led BoT obtained a new Certificate, containing lists of 9Trustees, the Mustapha- led group has responded by inaugurating 39 member taskforce to foresee the activities of the troubled association in the terminals. Not even the intervention of the CRFFN had softened their resolve. Would there be an end to this Saga? Find out. Babatunde Mukaila spoke with Frank Odinukaeze. Enjoy it.
The recent development, that is, the new CAC Certificate which contains Nine names of members of the association, what informed that? Has this development put an end to the crisis and what implications does it have on the peace committee headed by CRFFN?
The certificate ought to, and will end that crisis of leadership of the Board in ANLCA because, legally speaking there can’t be two different certificates in circulation. They have constantly told Taiwo Mustapha that section 13 and section 6 of ANLCA constitution under tenureship states clearly that tenure of board members is six years unless re-elected. Mustapha was elected in the year 13th February 2014, with eight others. And his tenure and that of his members lapsed on12th February, 2020. So he desires to leave in denial that he is still a member of the board, as well as chairman of the board, whereas, four members that started with him honorably left on 12th February, 2020. That is denial and crisis. That denial as precipitated has finally been put to rest by the recent development.
I think your second question could help the CRFFN to arrive at a very clear position because there’s nothing to fight for again. A new board has been established, duly licensed and with certification by Corporate Affairs . So if Mustapha is still fomenting any trouble or claiming to be anything, I think he’s just wasting his time. So I think that will help CRFFN to come to a conclusion on this crisis so that the association can move forward.
The Mustafa- led faction is saying that whatever happened in Owerri is null and void, meaning that they do not accept the amendment of the constitution and the subsequent tenure elongation. How do you react to this, sir?
There is what’s called Association of Nigerian Licensed Custom Agents. Our membership is by corporate companies. Mustapha just represented one company out of two thousand companies. So, if Mustapha refused to come to Annual General Meeting(AGM), where decisions are taken, that does not and will not and can not invalidate that decision. That is another way of leaving in denial because he and four other BoT members and some numbers maybe about 10-15 supporters did not come to annual general meeting of a big association like ANLCA ,a meeting where both the North, East, West and South certificated, should be wished away, that is not possible. The tenure elongation as you must have been aware, the tenure ship in ANLCA is two- two tenures and the association felt for someone to go into both for six years and then get re-elected for another six years that is twelve years, a particular company out of two thousand companies holding such position is too long and we desired for one single tenure for the board members, one single tenure for national executive committee and one single tenure for chapter executives and that is the only forum where our constitution can be amended. I wonder why Mustapha can not call their own annual general meeting while his tenure lasted. So it is binding on him, is binding on everyone and there is nothing Mustapha can do about it.
Another grouse he has with the association is that he is contending that the AGM held in Owerri unlawfully extended the tenure of the executives by one year. How true is this assertion?
That is the decision of the association. The executive would have spent four years plus another four years making eight years. But the association felt the executive ,instead of spending eight years, should spend the four years which have been given to them plus another one year and go home and never to return to office again. So if Mustapha doesn’t want four years plus additional one year, then the executives would have spent four years plus another four years making eight years in total. I had a reason to meet him at the AGM in Owerri and I asked him, which he prefers, is it four years plus another four ,making eight years or four years plus one year, which incidentally is what this present executive is having. We argued at that same AGM in Owerri , that even if you want to do a single tenure, it should be after our tenure so that some of us can re-run for 5 years tenure or ten years tenure, which is now going to be a single tenure, but they said no. Our argument was that you are in office already to spend four years, instead of extending it, let’s go for four years and re-contest because if the president is in office to stay for four years, he has spent two and half years before the AGM . It therefore means that if he completes the four years, and now re- runs as a president for another five years, that will be nine years all together. So majority of us said no. Instead of that, the president should complete his one and half year to make four years and then get one year and go. So Mustapha has continued to raise this issue. My question to him is: Do you want us to go after four years, so that I can contest as the national secretary for single tenure of five years? And if that happens ,I would have remained in office for nine years. If I’m sacrificing against what used to be the norm-my agreement with them was to spend eight years in office as a secretary but now I’m sacrificing that. I’m ready to cut -off five years, even though that was the agreement I had with them when I contested, and yet Mustapha is not happy with the sacrifice. The executive is appealing to allow ANLCA to breathe fresh air. I then wonder what he wants?
Our findings however is that the tenure elongation and amendment of the constitution at the AGM in Owerri are the major reasons for this crisis. Is that correct?
Mustapha’s tenure elapsed on the 12th February, 2020. All he has been doing in the association is to foment trouble. And that is why all the court cases he has instituted, he has totally lost all. The certificate he got was cancelled. He has been telling Journalists that the certificate subsists. How come CAC issued a fresh certificate if his own is still subsisting? He’s just fabricating stories. Now, Mustapha came up and conducted an illegal election and placed people in chapters and issued them a certificate single handedly at the chapter level. Some of this chapter executives have three years tenure each. Mustapha has turned around in his meeting with us, and demanded that he wants additional one year tenure for the people he placed in office whose tenure had expired as well, based on his own illegal certificate which was never authorized by the president. These are facts. So if he doesn’t want tenure elongation, we are ready to leave today, so that I can re-contest. Because if I’m not spending five years ,then I will have to go for another four years, thereby spending eight years. The ball is in his court. What is very important is that Mustapha is out and we have new board members and we have a new CAC certificate.
With the establishment of the new board, and with the intervention of the CRFFN,if the resolution of the peace committee is out today, will the new board accept the decision of the peace committee, or whichever way it goes?
Of course, it is binding, and CRFFN has been notified of the new certificate and it becomes a legal document that CRFFN cannot wish away. So whatever they come up with, you heard it from me, we will accept it.
Mr. Pius Ujubouno, who is fronting himself as the NECOM president so to say, just few days ago, inaugurated 39- Man taskforce to take care of the business of the association. How do you react to this, sir?
You don’t put something on nothing. My name is Abdullahi Babatunde , my company is Nicki Excellence Nigeria Limited. The company is a corporate member of ANLCA. I only go in there to represent my company. Tell them to tell you the name of their company that happens to be a member of ANLCA! Ask Pius what the name of his company is? Where is his licence? When did he get the licence to become a member of ANLCA? You don’t go to ANLCA to do a representation unless you are a Director of a company and ,at least, have 10% shareholding, and then, that company must have been a member of ANLCA for 5 years, for you to serve at national level. Mustapha also brought people that are not licensed. Please, do me a favor, put a call to Pius and ask him what his company’s name is. Let us stop answering individual names. In every letter of appointment in ANLCA, the name of the company comes first.
Ask these people, “Who are they?” Which company are they representing in ANLCA? When did that company become licensed and when did that company become a member of ANLCA? These are facts. We don’t need to come to their level to be playing in the mud.
Who is in control of the Secretariat, now?
When they barged into the Secretariat in pretence with Police cover that they would like to have meeting ,and the Commissioner of Police, Lagos, released additional security back-up, they falsely made a presentation that it was going to be a very big general meeting of all corporate members in Nigeria converging at the secretariat. After that pretence, they broke into the secretariat while all the executives were at Lekki Seaport having a retreat with the Transport Minister at the new commercial at Lekki Seaport. Now, they took over the Secretariat, the rest is history. What National Executive Committee of Tony Iju did was to approach the same police the following day. And the following day, they ( Mustapha and his group) resumed with drinking and messing up the whole environment. We told the police that they misled them to get permission to hold meeting in the Secretariat. Now, that the meeting should have been over,Police should chase them out, lock the place and invite all of us to come and explain what we are standing upon. So Tony Iju’s government is still in charge of the Secretariat.
If the Mustapha group shows remorse and comes back,are you going to open doors for them?
Our doors are wide open for them. They are still our members.