By Godwin Oritse
THE chairman of the governing council of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CFRFFN), Alhaji Hakeem Olanrewaju has given reasons why the Council’s vice chairman, Dr Sama Onyemelukwe and two others were suspended for allegedly violating some portions of the council’s Act.
Speaking to newsmen in Lagos recently, Olarenwaju stated that Onyemelukwe, chief Peter Obih and Mr Teddy Ifezue were suspended for violating chapter 2, section 19 (1 and 2) which spells out actions that are deemed as misconduct under the Act.
The Council’s Chairman who spoke for the first after the crisis that led to the suspension said that the Act also calls for the removal of the affected as members of the CRFFN governing council.
He noted that the anti- council activities of the trio has not only brought the Council to ridicule, the action of these people, the person and office of the minister of transport and the image of the Federal Republic of Nigeria were also affected as the affected members wrote letters that not only casts aspersion on the integrity, they also failed to explore all avenues that are provided for in the Act to table their grievances.
A copy of the suspension letter which was sighted by Vanguard also directed that the trio should retract the media reports that were alleged initiated by them in a national newspaper, they were also directed to withdraw their litigations against the Minister of transport, the CRFFN and its officials.
They were also ordered to retract all correspondences that they had earlier entered into with the International Federation of Freight Forwarders (FIATA).
The letters were allegedly written against CRFFN, the Ministry of Transport and the Government of Nigeria.
The suspended governing council members were also directed to tender a written apology to the minister of transport, Senator Idris Umar. Alhaji Olanrewaju told reporters that they Obih, Ifezue and Onyemelukwe were suspended at a duly constituted meeting which they also attended and were subsequently given seven days to comply with the directives, but he regretted that he is yet to receive any confirmation that they had complied.
Throwing more light, the CRFFN chairman said the Council felt bad that the suspended members deliberately circulated lies about the council’s finances in a national newspaper.
According to him, contrary to what the trio alleged, the council did not collect N90Million for the registration exercise. “It is false to say that we realised N90Million, when we only registered about 3,800 individuals and about 891 corporate members. Each individual paid N5, 000, while the corporate members paid N15, 000; how on earth can this amount to N90Million”.
“He claimed that NIMASA gave us N100Million, but it was N50Million and the purpose was spelt out clearly; it was for capacity development. I want to say categorically that Obih and his cohorts are not telling the truth and I am surprised that even as council members they can be so deceitful’, he wondered.
The CRFFN chairman also told journalists that it was the letter that the trio wrote to FIATA that made the global body to suspend its train-the-trainer course which was to hold this month. According to him, the letter was so frightening and deceitful that the world body had to direct its officials to postpone their coming to Nigeria.
“How can a member of the governing council write a letter to FIATA to discredit the Council and the ministry by forming an unregistered association for the sole purpose of ridiculing the system? By this action, they have denied freight forwarders the benefit that the training programme would have brought to them”, he lamented further.
And corroborating the council’s chairman, its registrar, Sir Mike Jukwe also said in Abuja last week that there was no truth in the allegation of financial impropriety as the council’s account for 2009 has been audited and certified by external auditors with a copy submitted to the supervising ministry. Also the 2010 account of the council has been audited, and is awaiting council’s approval to be sent to the ministry.
The registrar explained that the suspension chief Obi and other was based on the fact that he allegedly confessed during his defence at the governing council’s meeting that he was behind a letter written by an association known as International Freight Forwarders Association (IFFA) to the International Federation of Freight Forwarders (FIATA).