With barely a week to next week’s election in the Eastern Zone of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, a top contender in the race and a two time Chairman of the Oil and Gas chapter of the Association, Chief Michael Ebeatu was yesterday issued a yellow card. But the yellow card did not come from the electoral umpire, it came for a fellow contestant in the same race, Chief C. C. Okafor .
In the petition dated January 13, and addressed to the Chairman of ANLCA’S Electoral Committee, Barr Raymond Onyimba,Chief Okafor asked the electoral body to disqualify and reject Chief Ebeatu on the grounds that his entry into the race amounted to a third term bid which is not permissible under the 2013 constitution of ANLCA as ammended . Said Chief Okafor: ‘ Mr Mike Ebeatu has completely served out his two terms in office as elected Chairman of the Oil and Gas Free Zone Chapter.
He took his first Oath of Office as provided under section 31of the constitution in 2015 for a three year tenure which elapsed in 2018. While taking the Oath of office, he swore to uphold and abide by the provisions of the Constitution of ANLCA and to protect the image, name , fame and reputation of the Association. ‘
He took his second Oath of Office in 2018 for another 3 year tenure which is due to elapse on 27th February, 2021.
After serving two full years and some few days into his second term, he purportedly resigned resigned on 28th February, 2020 to enable him contest the Chairmanship position of Onne Seaport Chapter, apparently for a third term ‘, the petition claimed. Chief Okafor further revealed that section 8(1)(a) of ANLCA Supreme Constitution provides that ” every officer to whom this Constitution applies, elected or appointed…shall vacate office at the expiration of THREE (3)Calendar years dating from the date of assumption of office…Any such officer may be nominated to contest for reelection for another term of three years tenure …provided always that he or she shall not hold the same office for more than two terms.’ Chief Okafor further deposed that ” Assuming but not conceding that Mr Mike Ebeatu has resigned from Chairmanship of Oil and Gas Free Zone as purported, he is yet to be registered as a member of Onne Seaport Chapter, he has not fulfilled Constitutional requirements and processes of becoming the member of a chapter of the Association as provided under section 4(3)(a)and (b) of ANLCA Supreme constitution .
The ASECO Chair was told that there was no evidence whatsoever that Ebeatu expressed his willingness, in writing, to become a member of Onne Chapter, and that he may never have been screened to become a member of the chapter. As at the time of going to press , it could not be confirmed if the 7-man ASECO Chaired by Chief Onyimba had taken action on the petition. Barr Onyimba simply said ” it is normal in politics, complains and petitions must occur “,in response to our enquiry