On April 14, 1912, Capt John Edward Smith, Capt of RMS Titanic ,took his cruise vessel on a mission of no return when the vessel hit an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean. At the end of the Voyage, no fewer than 1,500 lost their lives in a journey that had over 2 ,400 on board. Exactly 106 years later on April 14, 2018,Tony Iju Nwabunike took over 3000 Freight Forwarders on 4 year journey onboard MV ANLCA. At the end of trip, there was hardly any survivor as Capt Tony Iju Nwabunike had abandoned his role as Master even before MV ANLCA got to its final destination. While it is customary for the master to be last to leave the Ship in case of a disaster, the exact opposite was the case in what has been termed ANLCA House of Commotion.
There is no better way to capture this scenario than the assertion by President Emeritus, Peter Okocha, who said ‘ ANLCA died the very day Tony Iju Nwabunike emerged as President ‘ .
According to Okocha, he said he had warned this elite club of Customs Licensed Agents during the build up to the 2018 elections that Tony Iju was not fit and proper to lead . ‘ I can tell you for free that Tony Iju worked with me as Secretary of this great Association when I was President. He is nice, good looking , but the irony is that he cannot be trusted with such responsibility. I advised them to go for Emenike Nwokeoji, if they needed a man who would lift the Association from where Prince Olayiwola Shittu had taken it to.
They ignored my call, and look at where the Association is today. ANLCA is dead , as we speak. How could a Captain abandon his sinking ship? What is he going to study that cannot wait until the expiration of his tenure ‘, he asked.
According to investigations by this magazine, trouble started when Chief Henry Njoku, the erstwhile Chairman of the Board of Trustees, refused to accept the outcome an election at which Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha emerged as the BoT Chairman. The election which held at the Golden Tulip hotel moments after Tony Iju’s swearing in had Taiwo Mustapha scoring five votes as against the two votes of Henry Njoku. All efforts to pacify Henry Njoku to accept the outcome of the results fell on deaf ears.
This led to litigation and counter litigations during the entire tenure of Tony Iju’s four years as President. While efforts were on to extract a truce ,Tony Iju in 2020 convened an extra ordinary convention of the Association in Owerri, IMO State, which among other things allegedly ammended the constitution, extending his tenure by 365 days. And with a few days to the expiration of his legal four years tenure, word filtered out that Tony Iju had fled to the United States, after purportedly handing over to his deputy, Dr Farinto. But last week, the Taiwo Mustapha led BoT swung into action by sacking Tony Iju Nwabunike and his team and appointing an interim NECOM led by Pius Ujubuonu.
The new NECOM was given six months to conduct fresh elections and restore sanity to the ailing Association.