-The Untold Story of the Masterminds
-We are not Cowed by their Shenanigans – ANLCA President
By Innocent Orok and Janet Peters
That the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents ANLCA crises has taken a new dimension is not in doubt. But the knacking question is who were behind the criminal acts of brigandage and arson aim at destroying the National Secretariat of the Association located at Amuwo Odofin area of Lagos State.
Hoodlums numbering over 40 armed with 47 rifles, pistols, machetes, ammunition, charms and other dangerous weapons have invaded the “Dikko Inde House” of ANLCA at the early hours of Tuesday 5th October, 2020.
The armed invaders arrived the ANLCA Secretariat at about 9:30am in a VW bus and other vehicles. After forcefully gaining entry into the building brandishing their weapons, smashing windows and doors, they chase away secretariat staff, while carrying out their destructions and looting. Their first point of call was the National Secretary’s office located at the first floor of the building. They carted away documents, files and cash estimated at over N3 million used for office exigencies. The hoodlums also snatched mobile phones and other belongings from some of the staff present, before chasing them away.
After ransacking the National Secretary’s Office, some of them headed to the National President’s office located in the same floor. On getting there, the leader of the gang met a staff in the office of the National president whom he knows, he pointed his AK 47 rifle at him and ordered him to vamoose from the office. When the staff asked him ” What is the problem and why they are destroying the place, “has it gotten to this”. according to the staff they ignored him and ordered him to leave the office or he will be shot. Fortunately, they could not gain entrance to the president’s office, before the police arrived.
While the looting was going on in the edifice, some of the arsonists were breaking the CCTV cameras, while others were outside the ANLCA Secretariat carrying heavy weapons waiting for any intruder that may enter the ANLCA house . At this time, non of ANLCA’s Executive members was present in the building and nobody has communicated the invasion to neither the president or any NECOM member as all means of communication have either been seized or no one present was allowed to make any call.
WHAT SAVE THE DAY
As the invaders continued their destruction, their intention was to occupy the building and chase away any ANLCA Executive member or members that will try to enter the place. But their plans was cut short. An eyewitness who is also a member of Association of Igbo Maritime Practitioners in Nigeria
(ASIMPIM) who narrated his narrow escaped from the invaders said. He arrived at the gate of the ANLCA Secretariat on a motorcycle at about 9:30am that day, before he could jump down from the bike, he was given a hot chase by a machete wielding hoodlum. Sensing danger, he flee from the scene with the same motorcycle towards the Apapa – Oshodi Expressway. He then quickly put a telephone call to the ANLCA National President and few others. ASIMPIM was scheduled to have a courtesy visit to the ANLCA President and his NECOM members that day.
The Police was invited and the situation brought under control.
Before the police arrival, the hoodlums have succeeded in breaking into the ANLCA Secretariat and carted documents, smashed CCTV cameras, doors and windows and burnt valuable documents. The police were able to arrest nine of them, seized four Ak 47 rifles, two pistols, charms, ammunition and other items.
SPONSORS AND MASTERMINDS OF THE ATTACK
The invasion of the ANLCA Secretariat has been linked to the Western Zone of the Association. According to our source from the police, the arrested culprits have the ANLCA Western Zone Task Force Identity cards on them and were alleged to have been led by the
National Publicity Secretary Oodua Logistic Association, Yemi Hasstrup.
The attack is also believed to have been sponsored by some ANLCA aggrieved BOT members and some Western zone chapter Executives of the association.
REASON FOR THE ATTACK
At present, there are about 15 Court cases against the the present ANLCA leadership. The cases are either instituted by ANLCA, BOT members against themselves or against the National Executive Council ( NECOM).
One of such cases which judgement was delivered is believed to have sparked up the ANLCA Secretariat attack.
Our reliable source said “the Judgment in Suit number FHC/L/CS/1274/2018 which adjudged Taiwo Mustapha, Ernest Elochukwu, Dennis Okafor and Dayo Azeez as illegal members of the ANLCA BOT jolted them. They did not know what hit them and have not come to terms with that.
“They did not appeal the Judgment, instead they have been going round trying to subvert justice. Part of their antics was going back to Court with phantom names who are not known members of ANLCA, simply to stop the winners from reaping the fruits of the judgment.
” Despite all these antics, intimidation and misrepresentation of Court Judgment, ANLCA NECOM remain undeterred. This unperturbed attitude of NECOM is turning them nuts. This led to the meeting of some selected members of the Western zone (Names withheld)
The meeting took place on October 1st and 3rd. Prior to that, previous meeting in September held and centered on how to raise money for the publication of 30th December, 2020 in the Punch Newspapers.
“The whole idea of the meeting was to sack NECOM from the National Secretariat by whatever means possible and stop the conduct of the election into various chapters of the Association by ASECO. The game plan is to petition SARS. ( now disbanded) and allege likelihood of breakdown of law and order in the secretariat with the intention to cause the Police to prevail on NECOM and ASECO to stop the conduct of elections into various chapters. The idea of using SARS became an alternative after the petition to the Commissioner of Police MMA Airport Command failed.
” It could be remembered that on the 18th day of December, 2018 while NECOM and members across the country were in Abuja NEC of the Association, a member of the BOT ( Name withheld) and his co-travellers came with some of his illegal members of the BOT and locked up the National Secretariat. It took the intervention of the Police before NECOM regained access à day after”, the source said.
Revealing on why the attack failed, our source said ” the October 5th attack was well planned and executed, the only snag was that Police failed them. They planned that Police will not respond to distressed calls on time ”
“The ANLCA Lawyer that represented them at SARS then, told them that NECOM will be with them on Tuesday October 5th by 10am and the petitioners (BOT) were contacted. So the assumption was that NECOM members will be in SARS as at time the armed bandits will strike”.
The source also said the attack was allegedly led by one Mr Yemi Hastrup. ” “The armed gang probably did not come to kill anyone (but no assurance that they won’t if confronted with equivalent force), but they came to sack everyone in sight, hold brief and sit tight in the secretariat pending the arrival of the factional BOT members for a takeover. They were given full assurance that Policemen have been sorted and no authority will arrest or question them. But this does not take away anything from the criminality the illegal BOT enmeshed themselves with.
“The scheduled solidarity visit of the Association of Igbo Maritime Practitioners In Nigeria (ASIMPIN) was what helped to some extent. As a result of the scheduled visit, the SARS visit by NECOM was deferred to the next day. So as at the time the hoodlums attacked the National Secretariat, NECOM members including the National President were on their way to the secretariat contrary to the expectation that they should be in SARS with phones switched off.
So, when order came from above, the Area E Command of Nigeria Police had no choice than to go and arrest the criminals” the source concludes.
WE ARE NOT COWED BY SHENANIGANS OF DISGRUNTLED ELEMENTS – NWABUNIKE
The Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents ANLCA has officially reacted to the attack on its headquarters building by hoodlums at Amuwo Odofin area of Lagos State few weeks ago, saying it will not be cowed or trapped by shenanigans of disgruntled elements who don’t meant well for the association.
Recalled that suspected hoodlums numbering over 40 invaded the National Secretariat of ANLCA wielding guns, machetes and charms on October 6, 2020 at about 9:30 am.
In a statement signed by the National President of ANLCA, Hon. Iju Tony Nwabunike, he said, though the attack was regretted, but it will not deter him and his NECOM of moving ANLCA forward. His statement reads.
“The gestapo style invasion which took everyone working in the secretariat unaware resulted in robbery, looting and destruction of the association’s properties while the Invaders searched round for Iju Tony Nwabunike, National President and other members of the National Executive Committee (NECOM)
Fortunately, most of the National Officers they wanted to physically attack were not in the building during the raid that lasted for over 30 minutes before the very timely and life saving intervention of Police officers from Festac Police Station.
” To say that we , the NECOM members, escaped death, is stating the obvious because the attackers were out for our lives.”
Recounting the hoodlums ordeal in the hands of the police, Nwabunike said,
“on sighting the Police, most of them fled while nine members of the gang were arrested with their guns, charms and other harmful objects.
In their struggle and resistance against lawful arrest, the hoodlums injured a Police officer, Sergeant Abadariki F. who was hospitalised after the incident.
” As a law abiding organisation, with a leadership that believes in God, we are grateful to our creator for saving us from an attempt to gruesomely murder us by persons whose desperation has been brought to the fore for all to see.”
“NECOM is further carrying out its own independent investigation to truly ascertain the level Of collateral damage to our facilities, with the view to quantifying in destruction done in monetary terms, including cash stolen by the hoodlums.
“Our move for evaluation was stalled by recent protests and curfew that slowed down activities throughout Lagos State and other parts of the country.”
The statement further said that,
“the suspects arrested in connection with the incident have been charged to court.and we are following the process as the law takes its course”.
The ANLCA National President, however called on his members to go about their business activities as the association under his watch will not be cowed or trapped by shenanigans.
” ANLCA as a law abiding institution will refrain from commenting on the matter which is in court, as doing so will be subjudice.
“That the leadership of ANLCA under my watch is not and will never be cowed or trapped in the shenanigans of disgruntled elements who are bent on destroying the oldest and most organised Customs Brokers organisation in Nigeria. As such the NECOM is not leaving any stone unturned as it has petitioned relevant government security agencies to ensure that those criminally minded elements who carried out the mayhem on our secretariat and their sponsors are made to face full wrath of the law.
” Our association under my watch will continue to carry out our legitimate duties as enshrined in the ANLCA Supreme Constitution and we call on all our members across the country to go about their normal businesses without fear, intimidation or allowing themselves to be incited against the legitimate leadership of the association.”
The ANLCA boss, however assured all I his members at the chapters to prepare fir their respective chapter elections, which according to him is their constitutional right.
“We want to also use this medium to inform the various Chapters of ANLCA to prepare for their respective election of Chapter Executives as their constitutional rights guaranteed in the ANLCA Supreme Constitution and to disregard any empty threats from those individuals who don’t mean well for the association.
” Finally, I want to assure all our members that this NECOM under my headship will continue to negotiate and fight for the rights of members so that they will keep carrying out their businesses without any form of threat or intimidation. Many thanks to our friends and members of the public for their prayers, support and good wishes through this impasse” he concludes.