It started like a rumour, then a text message and a few telephone calls, and by the evening of Sunday, August 16, the arrest of embattled ‘former national president’, National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents has been confirmed.
He was reported to have been beaten up by a reinforcement of the police from the Trinity police station in Apapa, Lagos having allegedly refused earlier arrests and locking the gates of his compound on one of the two policemen who had come from the same station to effect his arrest. He was arrested along with his wife and two members of his family.
By last Monday, Mr Amiwero was arraigned before the magistrate at Apapa Magistrate court on a five count charge; among which was: abduction of a policeman, assault, resisting arrest and fraud. He pleaded not guilty, the magistrate granted him bail, the bail conditions could not be immediately met, and Mr Amiwero was ordered to proceed to Kirikiri prison; a distance of about two kilometres to his office. He ended up spending about six days in prison custody because the bail of N250,000 each for himself, his wife and two children who were arraigned along with him could not be met.
It would be recalled that Amiwero’s travails started shortly after he reportedly stormed out of a reconciliation meeting at the office of the executive secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Captain Adamu Biu, who stood – in for the minister of transport, Alhaji Isa Bio in the protracted attempt to ensure that the case that was instituted by Amiwero against the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) was withdrawn.
Shortly after that incident, events started following in rapid succession, culminating in Amiwero’s purported removal from office by a group which called itself ‘founding members’ of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents; the association which he has led for about 14 years.
It is the new interim leadership which emerged from the emergency general meeting that was called by the ‘founding members’ that reportedly went to the Police to ensure that Mr Amiwero handed over all assets and liabilities belonging to the association to the interim leadership.
The embattled, but highly respected freight forwarder was alleged to have resisted attempt by the police to arrest take him to the Trinity police station, he was said to be weary of the personalities that came to arrest him, because according to sources, the policemen were not in uniform.
The unfortunate chain of events which culminated to the arrest and the prison experience calls for a moment of reflection by all maritime industry stakeholders. For more than three decades that he has been feasible on the scene, Mr Amiwero has not been known to be a violent person; he has always been known for intellectualism and doggedness in the search for a better maritime industry.
As much as we agree that he took his luck too far and probably over- rated himself, arresting and beating him up by the police; given the circumstances under which he allegedly resisted arrests is unacceptable. It is most embarrassing that he was arrested along with his wife and children.
The dramatis personae in the events before, during and after his arrest certainly took things too far. For a purely association matter and an obvious civil case, a maritime industry personality of the status of Mr Lucky Eyis Amiwero should not have been demonised and criminalised.
The most civilised thing to do would have bee for the founding members to go to court, from where they would probably have got justice. Using the police to settle a matter which the court is most suitable for is tantamount to cowardice, to say the least.
The typical African leadership style of perpetuating self in office which Mr Amiwero adopted for 13 years as the maximum ruler of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents has been roundly condemned by all; with many agreeing that his disgraceful exit was a good lesson for others who may harbour similar tendencies. But, there is danger in the precedence that his traducers have set.
Whatever his offence was, Mr Amiwero does not deserve the humbling experience of a night (not to talk of days) in prison. The fact that he could not (at the snap of his fingers) meet the bail condition of N1Million for himself and the three members of his family probably shows that he does not belong to the class of fraudulent licensed customs agents. His contemporaries who probably dip their hands in questionable deals would have raised the money within minutes.
Whatever, it will take; those who organised Mr Amiwero’s travail should also take steps to remedy it. The litigations should stop while the accused should also hand over assets and liabilities of the Council of Managing Directors to its ‘founding members’.