By Oluwabunmi Ogunjimi
THE Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA, is currently engulfed in crisis as the President of the group, Mr. Tony Iju Nwabunike, has queried the Vice President, Mr. Kayode Farinto, for writing to the World Customs Organization, WCO, accusing the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, of unwholesome practices.
Confirming the development, Farinto said that he was queried based on the letter he wrote to the WCO, a development that has caused some level of embarrassment to the management of the Customs.
Farinto also told Vanguard Maritime Report that he has answered the query but does not know the outcome of his response yet.
On why he did not carry his boss along before writing the letter, Farinto explained that he would not take any action that will be inimical to the growth of the association or embarrass the association adding that the letter was in the best interest of the group and the country at large.
The query dated 27th of August, 2020 condemned the action of the Farinto for writing such a letter without the consent of Nwabunike.
Farinto in his answer to the query, said that by virtue of his being an elected member of the association, he does not need any authorization to take certain actions, adding that his action is in line with section 3 sub-sections (a) and (g) of the ANLCA constitution.
He stated in his response to the query: “I received with consternation, your query letter dated 25th of August, 2020 that I wrote to the Secretary General of World Customs Organization, (WCO), without authorization of the association.
“This is because, by virtue of me being elected as the National Vice President, I do not need any authorization, in line with section 3 sub-sections (a) and (g) which deals with the aims and objectives of being members of the association.
‘‘Sir, it will interest you to know that, as at the time of writing this letter, your demeanor has shown that you have compromise your position as the President to defend the interest of the Licensed Customs Agents and the supreme constitution which you sworn to uphold, in order that our case will not be liking to that of “Empero Nero that fiddled when Rome was burning”.
“Hence the necessity for the letter to fill the vacuum you created. Permit me to mention just 3. (A) You issued a press release against my position that the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) does not have power to levy our members the mandatory ten thousand naira for registration; by supporting this agency which negates the aims and objectives of our association. (B) Secondly, when it became obvious that the Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) was making Importers and agents to pay unnecessary demurrages/storages, your position negated my own and you obviously protected this agency from admitting their faults.
“This is against the oaths of office you sworn to as our National President. (C) Thirdly, Sir, I issued a press release sometimes in July when the outcry of our members became unbearable that the present management team of Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) be sacked which led to our invitation by the same Customs management to a meeting at the Customs House in Abuja.
“Mr. President Sir, your address on the 11th of July, 2020 at the Nigerian customs Headquarters was the last straw, where you said in your speech that “May I at this point express our vote of confidence to you for your laudable feats, in which we are witnesses within this few years of your administration of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
“Mr. President, there was never a time that we agreed to pass a vote of confidence on the management of the customs, not even when it is obvious that this particular management team modus operandi is against trade facilitation, and is making our members to be in abject poverty despite having jobs.
“Sir, the issue of contravening section 7, sub sections 3 (a),(d) and (e) cannot be said to arise, in view of the fact that section 7 sub sections (a) and (d) empowers me to act as The Deputy Chief Executive Officer when the President is not available. So also in the organ gram of our association, I cannot be seen to have contravene section 3 (a), (d) and (e) because it is the office of the National Secretary which is a subordinate to the office of the National Vice President.
“Furthermore sir, you do not have the power to strip me of sub section 2c under section 7 of our supreme constitution. However, even though i can’t be a judge in my own case, you can escalate this issue to the National Executive Council (NBC) if not satisfied with the answers to my query, as for being the Chairman of the National Disciplinary Committee of the association, section 7 sub section 2 (b) empowers me to be the chairman of the National Disciplinary Committee of the association and not 2 (c) as wrongly quoted in your letter, it is a constitutional right. Finally Mr. President, it is rather unfortunate and negates the oaths of office you took, to have written an apology letter to Nigeria Customs Service Management Team.
“This is because all the issues raised in my letters are germane and constitute wheel of clog in cargo clearance and these are not allowing facilitation of good trade in the maritime industry.
“The question is, are you on the side of customs or ought to protect the customs brokers as enshrine in our supreme constitution?”
In his reaction, Nwabunike told Vanguard Maritime Report that there is a procedure in the group adding that these procedures must be followed.
A visit to the secretariat of the Association by Vanguard Maritime Report showed that security has been beefed up around the entry point to thoroughly scrutinized every visitor.
But Nwabunike said that queries are simple internal mechanism for discipline.
He said: “This association was founded in 1954 and procedures have been running the association since the time it was established.”