Dissatisfied with the outcome of the emergency National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held on Monday, the Board of Trustees (BOT) of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has decided to independently seek legal interpretation of the association’s constitution over the election scheduled to hold later this month.
During the emergency NEC meeting held at its permanent secretariat in Lagos on Monday, leaders of the association rejected plans to postpone the election of its national executives as suggested by the BOT.
The BOT had sought to extend the tenure of the present executives led by Prince Olayiwola Shittu by three months.
A former president of the association and BOT member, Sir Ernest Elochukwu, told SHIPS & PORTS DAILY that the board was surprised at the decision to hold elections in two weeks’ time.
He said: “The meeting was summoned at the instance of the board because the board felt that the time is short for an election to be held into the soon-to-expire tenure of NECOM and in order to avoid any vacuum, after looking at the provision of the constitution, weighed the options that are available and advised the NECOM or the National President to convene an emergency NEC meeting to officially extend the tenure of the current NECOM.
“However at the meeting, events took a different turn as to the surprise of the members of the board, majority of the NEC members seemed to be averse to the proposed extension of tenure and there was a request to ensure that the election is held.
“Copious references were made to the constitution to suggest that extension would be unconstitutional and because the board does not really have anything to gain or to lose if the election is held, we conceded. More so, when the ASECO was called and the committee expressed its readiness to conduct the election within the period or before the expiration of the tenure, that is to say, within this April.”
Apart from the short time to election, Elochukwu also faulted the decision of the Monday emergency meeting on those eligible to elect the association’s executives in the proposed April 16 election.
“Of course many questions are unanswered as they are but other issues did come up principal of which is who would vote at the said election. The board’s understanding of the constitution is that it would be at an Annual General Meeting just like it happened during the board election in Warri but of course again; references and citation of the constitution by some members of the NEC appear to go otherwise. In other words that some became insistent that the people to vote would only be NEC members and NEC members constitute not up to ten percent of members of the association because they are the NECOM members, the chapter executive committee members of the seventeen chapters, the board of trustees members and the zonal committee as well as appointees.
“We are guided by what the constitution says as well as the sheer morality of the issue because we believe that the National Executive Committee is the highest point of leadership; that is the executive leadership of the association.
“And if at the chapter level, the chapter executive committee is being elected by the membership; at the board level, the board of trustees are being elected by the membership; we started wondering why it was difficult to understand that the members should elect the National Executive Committee and the Zonal Committee,” he stated.
Elcohukuwu said that since an expansive reference was made to the ANLCA constitution during the NEC meeting suggesting that the positions of the board were unconstitutional and were overruled by other NEC members who constitute majority, the board would be forced to get its own legal adviser.
“If at the end of the day, the major impetus for discountenancing the board’s position becomes a legal issue, it is only fit and fair that the board ought to now have a kind of understanding of where they have erred if they have erred at all,” he said.