A Federal High Court in Abuja recently laid to rest the controversies over the tenure of members of the governing council of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN).
The incorporated trustees (otherwise called Board of Trustees) of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), was a party to the suit seeking to determine the tenure of the governing council of CRFFN.
The Board of Trustees (BoT) of ANLCA and a member of the association at Seme branch; Bamidele Azeez, joined President of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) Chief Increase Uche, as plaintiffs.
Currently, there are two factional Board of Trustees of ANLCA. There is one led by Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha, while the other is said to be headed by Dr Taiwo Afolabi.
However, the Judge; Justice N.E Maha, while delivering his judgment, ruled that the ANLCA BoT, had no locus standi to institute the action, since it cannot establish its corporate existence as a juristic personality.
According to the Certified True Copy of the judgment, obtained by our correspondent, the BoT of ANLCA postulated that the court has jurisdiction to entertain and adjudicate on the claims in the originating summons and submitted that Chief Increase Uche, and Bamidele Azeez are duly elected members of CRFFN.
The BoT added that their grouse is centered on the interpretative powers of the court in respect to the tenure of the governing board of CRFFN, stating that they only seek the interpretation of the tenure of the board of CRFFN as it affects the plaintiff’s rights under the law.
Even though, the ANLCA BoT claimed to be an interested party, the Judge however noted that where a plaintiff fails to disclose his standing or capacity to initiate legal proceedings against another, the suit or action is adjudged incompetent and liable to be struck out.
Efforts by our correspondent to determine which of the factional BoTs of the association joined in the suit as plaintiff, did not yield much result, as the two factions, apparently conscious of the implication, claimed not to have seen the court ruling
In a chat with our correspondent, the National Secretary of the Association, Alhaji, Babatunde Mukaila, said he has not seen the judgment, but stated that, if the court ruled that the Incorporated trustees that the factional chairman, Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha, headed has no certificate to show as the registered BoT, that settled the case. He added that the judgment is a pointer to the fact that the association only has one BoT.
In his words: “I have not seen the judgment and if it is true that the certificate Mustapha claims to have is not there, I think that should settle the case, if Mustapha claims he has a certificate and the judge says nothing like that exists.
“For the plaintiff; one Bamidele Azeez, who happens to be our member at Seme, we learnt he sued CRFFN and ANLCA I have not seen the judgment but if the judge ruled that they have no certificate then this will be a pointer to all these rubbish Joe Sanni has been talking about, we only have one BoT in the association”, he said.
On his part Joe, Sanni; the National Publicity Secretary of ANLCA and a strong ally of the Taiwo Mustapha faction, also noted that although he has not seen the judgment, but stated that if there is any judgment like that, it does not in any way affect the tenure of the Taiwo Mustapha led Board of Trustees.
He said: “I have not seen the judgment, but If there is anything like that, it does in anyway affect the tenure of the BoT of ANLCA.
“In 2019, Justice Aikawa told Taiwo Mustapha to stop parading himself as the chairman of the board, but before he made that declaration, he said the board that was elected in 2014 in Warri, was not in existence because it was not registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission. So in 2019 when eventually the judgment was delivered and the board saw that they were handicapped and they could not even operate, then the board started the process of registration, that was how they got registered on the 16th of January 2020 and since they got registered the court says that is when their tenure commences.
“Therefore, just when the board got registered is when their tenure commences. Because it is only the board of trustees of the association that can sue or be sued”, he said.
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