Traditionally, the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) is known over the past five decades as an association always coated with crisis. It was founded under the Act Cap 83 of 1954 with Certificate No. 38799 of 30th September 1954. But it does not appear to have known peace all these decades.
The founding fathers, beginning from Dr Rafiu Oladipo attest to this. Ladipo had his own baptism of fire in the association and at a time wiggled out of it. The association went into coma at a point before refloating. The longest serving President of the Association, Alhaji Sani Kamba also witnessed the crisis. He later left the association unceremoniously for higher grounds, finding his way to the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly, the Senate. Kamba had left office for Billionaire Peter Okocha who also left the scenario. One recalls the place of Chief Idornigie who had to take over the association as the Board of Trustees Chairman following the crisis. One remembers Alhaji Inua Mohammed who came to the scene as Acting President at a time after Okocha. Similarly, Alhaji Sani Shittu had also come to the scene during the crisis as Acting President. The present National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) can be said to be traced to the ANLCA crisis. The founder, Dr. Boniface Aniebonam left ANLCA after falling out with Kamba and subsequently with Okocha. He decided to go solo leading to the registration of NAGAFF. Now NAGAFF has swelling membership and is competing favourably with ANLCA. The two are currently the main major leading associations of customs agents/freight forwarders.
The reign of Chief Ernest Elochukwu who took over from Sani Shittu was not free from crisis. He had his baptism of fire until he handed over to Prince Olayiwola Shittu who steered the ship for 8 good years robustly and handed over to Iju Tony Nwabunike. This was when the BoT crisis picked and rose to the level where we are now, engulfing the entire association. It has been from one court action to another. First, it was between the former BoT Chairman, Chief Henry Njoku and Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha whose tenure is said to have expired in 2020. The National Executive Council of the Association had in 2020 at an Annual General Meeting (AGM) during which members effected some changes and elected new BoT members as well as agreed that the terms of office for NECOM members now be five years. Since then, there has been crisis between the NECOM and BoT members led by Mustapha. This led to the suspension of some of them and even few members loyal to them. The suspension has been resisted. The crisis in the association had led to attacks on the secretariat. Losses have been recorded as well in the association as a result of the crisis. The Police Force has been involved and encouraging settlement. Following this, the two camps have been making moves to settle their differences until the Mustapha group held a meeting at the secretariat and pronounced a dissolution of the NECOM officers. That was when the efforts to reconcile suffered deadlock. Mustapha had appointed an Acting National President of ANLCA, Mr Pius Ujubonu, a development that has been described as an exercise in futility by his opponents. It was at this stage that the new BoT members who emerged from the 2020 AGM rose to action, insisting that Mustapha group has no legal standing as their tenure expired as far back as 2020. The new group led by the Chairman of Sifax Group, Chief Taiwo Afolabi then produced a new certificate showing the legality of their office. This has been a big blow to the Mustapha group as the group is not known to have such certificate backing their claim to the ‘throne’. One of the BoT members who was assigned this role was alleged to have defaulted in registering the Mustapha BoT group, a development that has continued to haunt the group as Certificate to affirm their claim may be lacking.
Incidentally, the Acting President of the Association, Dr. Kayode Farinto, recently announced the reception of the new certificate backing the new BoT in a press statement he personally signed.
Armed with the certificate, Farinto advised all stakeholders to “disregard any other group or individuals that are parading themselves as ANLCA board members”.
He maintained that those parading themselves as board members were simply those expelled by the Association.
He said that the ANLCA NECOM was aware of frantic moves by the expelled members to get recognition from stakeholders, adding that they have been distributing letters of introduction for recognition.
Farinto said that while the issue of letters of introduction is being investigated, he warned that those letters do not and cannot have the backing of the ANLCA NECOM.
He also warned that the perpetrators would be brought to book in due course.
The Acting President however said that NECOM would not close its doors for discussion with the aggrieved members in the spirit of moving the association forward.