·We shall hold our AGM with or without BoT—-ANLCA Scribe
·Victorious plaintiff must be allowed to carry out the functions denied him —–Maritime Lawyer
The crisis that is rocking the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has taken a new twist, with a Federal High Court in Ikoyi recongnising the Taiwo Mustapha-led faction of the Board of Trustees (BOT) of the association.
Rather than put end to the lingering leadership crisis in the association’s BOT, the ruling which was given recently has festered it.
The leadership crisis in the ANLCA BoT, has seen Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha and four others fighting for the soul of the board. The face-off has also sharply divided the association’s executive council.
But, according to the National Publicity Secretary of ANLCA, Mr. Joe Sanni, an order by Justice O.O. Oguntoyinbo of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi – in a Suit No. FHC/L/CS/599/2020 has recognized that the Certificate of Registration of the Board of Trustees (BOT) of ANLCA, issued on the 16th of January 2020 as authentic, and that the members listed therein, are the validly elected BOT members in the February 2014 board elections, which held in Warri-Delta state.
He added that: “As a result of contestations on the validity or otherwise of some members in the BOT, upon which they were all jointly sued by Chief Peter Obih, Justice Aikawa in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1274/2018 delivered a judgment stating that, without that BOT elected in 2014 registering with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), that particular BOT membership remained inchoate and therefore illegal.
“The then implication meant that there was no BOT, no NECOM, no Eastern zone chapters’ executives and no Western zone chapters’ executives, since those activities were conducted by the defaulted Board.
“While all the foregoing structures were being actively promoted by especially some members of NECOM, their BOT collaborators and Eastern zone chapter executives, the authentic, cohesive and determined original members of ANLCA’s BOT resolutely pursued their registration with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) having realized that since 2001, there was no other official BOT registration”.
However, reacting to the ruling, the factional chairman of the of the BoT, Chief Henry Njoku in a telephone chat with our correspondent, stated that the ruling does not hold water, insisting that the tenure of the board expired in February this year.
He said he was no longer interested in the BoT chairmanship, having served two terms, but added that whoever desires to be on the Board should seek for election, adding that he is ready to help support the association as an elder statesman.
“Our tenure has expired, so it seems they don't know what they are doing, because if they know what they are doing, you have a judgment from a Federal High Court, you have not appealed it, you went again and started filling another. Well, as for me, our tenure has expired and I don't have business with the BoT again. So the ruling does not hold water.
“I am a straight forward person, I know what the ANLCA constitution says, after six years we finished our tenure by February (of 2020), so any other thing anybody wants to do, he should go and stand for election, but for those who want to come from the back, if the association allows them, fine.
“But I believe those who want to come back should go and stand for election, but for me I am not interested; I have done two terms, so all I can do is to advice as an elder state man of ANLCA” he said.
In a counter reaction, the Secretary of the Mustapha-led faction of the BoT; Mr. Taiye Oyeniyi said, the affected board members no longer need to seek re-election, he stated that the court recognized the Certificate of Registration of the Board of Trustees (BOT) of ANLCA, that as issued on the 16th of January 2020 as authentic, and that the members listed therein, as the validly elected BOT members in the February 2014 board elections, held in Warri-Delta state.
According to him, their tenure started from the 16th of January 2020 when they were duly registered and recognised by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
"Since 2001, there was no registration all along, Henry (Njoku) was deceiving us that there is registration, what they did then was just an application and the law says if you are not given a nod, you are not yet recognized by law, but as God will have it, one of us, Peter Obi went to court and deceived the court that one of us, Taiwo Mustapaha is a fresher and was not registered and unknown to the court; including himself and myself , and that no one was duly registered, so they (Court) believed him and ruled under section 599 of the CAC Act of 1990 that, if you are not duly registered you cannot parade yourself”.
Oyeniyi explained that, the scenario is just like a governor that has not been sworn in, he still remains governor-elect.
"The CAC had written a letter to the Secretariat of ANLCA, that the purported certificate that was paraded by Njoku was cancelled based on lies, but the National Secretary in person of Babatunde Mukaila collected the letter and kept it”, he alleged.
Reacting to the latest court ruling, he said: "The court judgement is a welcome development and we don't need to go for any election, the law says until you are registered, you are not known to law, so what's the implication, you know the answer already".
On his part, the National Secretary of ANLCA; Babatunde Mukaila, stated that with the new court ruling, the association now has two court rulings for consideration, while stating that neither of the rulings is in favour of either of the factions.
“I have the privilege of getting the court process with an adjournment date in a very clear future. I would not say much on that because it is a court matter, equally there is a previous court ruling concerning this same issue of the board, so we have two of them for consideration and none of the ruling is in favour of the two factions”
“There are issues raised in that process, I am not a lawyer, but the judge said until the determination of the new suit, which means it has not been determined. However, the first one has been determined, because there is a ruling, so that's the little I can say about that”, he said.
He however said, with or without the BOT, the association will go ahead with its Annual General Meeting (AGM) informing that this year AGM will be a virtual one, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With or without board, we will go ahead and do our AGM, because it's an annual thing it's going to be a virtual meeting, don't forget all our NECOM meeting have become virtual since the advent of COVID19”
However, a maritime lawyer; Barrister Osuala Nwagbara told our correspondent that, since the court has ruled in favour of the victorious plaintiff, the victorious plaintiff should be allowed to carry out his assignment that was denied him in the last six years, according to the ANLCA constitution.
“I am not conversant with the fact of the crisis. but once issues are placed before the domain of the court and the court gives a ruling on that, that is the position, until that judgment is set aside. So, as we speak, that judgment as stated in the court of competent jurisdiction is the position and if the victorious plaintiff has been denied the opportunity to do what he should do under the constitution of ANLCA, it means he has to go back to the drawing board and get that done because the court has given the nod to do that, so as we speak, that is the position until it is otherwise overturned by a superior court”.