THERE is heightened apprehension among members of the Nigeria Civil Service Union (NCSU) following an impending judgement by the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal on the matter between the union and Comrade Benson Ekasa and three other claimants.
The apprehension, National Record gathered, stems from the fear that the court of appeal may uphold the nullification of the 2018 delegates conference in which Comrade Lawrence Amaechi was elected.
The Court of Appeal, after the 2nd December, 2021 hearing, reserved judgement in the matter, although a date on which the judgement would be delivered was yet to be communicated to the parties.
It is believed that the court may deliver the judgement before the January 25, 2022 date when the union would be holding its delegates conference to elect a new set of national leaders.
National Record gathered that if the nullification of the 2016 delegates conference, where Comrade Amaechi was elected, is upheld, it is expected that the court appointed Trustee will take over the affairs of the union to administer it for three months in order to organise a fresh delegates’ conference.
The NCSU has been enmeshed in crisis for over six years now when Comrade Benson Ekasa and three others dragged the union and its former President, Comrade Kiri Mohammed Shuaibu, to the Abuja Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court (NIC) claiming, among other things, that the former President had retired from the civil service of his home state of Jigawa and that as a retiree, he lacked the competence to preside over the union.
The claimants then obtained a ruling stopping the union from going ahead with its 2016 delegates conference, an order of the court which the National Secretariat did not obey as it went ahead to conduct the conference and elected Comrade Amaechi.
In its judgement in 2018/2019, the NIC, presided over by Justice Kado, though dismissed, for lack of evidence, the claim that Comrade Shuaibu had retired from the Jigawa State civil service, however nullified the conference as it had asked the union not to conduct the conference until the determination of the case.
The emergent leadership of Comrade Amaechi had appealed the judgement, which had lingered at the appeal court until he (Amaechi) retired from service on September, 2021, stoking another crisis in the union.
First, the Federal Council of the union, had on September 8, 2021, congratulated Comrade Amaechi for having successfully served the country for 35 years and had reached retirement without blemish.
This was followed by a letter from Comrade Benson Ekasa, a member of the union and one of the litigants in the lingering court case, to the NCSU Secretariat, the NLC and the Ministry of Labour asking them not to recognise Comrade Amaechi as President having retired from public service and therefore no longer a check-off paying member of the union. He asked the retired president to instead join the Nigerian Union of Pensioners.
Shortly after, three members of the union, Comrade Theresa A. Abraham, a staff of the Federal Ministry of Justice; Comrade Benson Ekasa of the Directorate of Technical Cooperation in Africa; and Comrade Adulazeez Aliyu of the Ministry of Works and Housing, wrote a strongly worded petition against Comrade Amaechi to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to among other prayers investigate and if found culpable prosecute him for corruption and financial crimes.
The copies of the petition were also circulated to the Ministry of Labour and Employment, the NLC and NCSU’s National Secretariat.
The Northern Forum of the NCSU entered the fray after a National Executive Council (NEC) meeting (NEC) of the union met and gave Comrade Amaechi the go-ahead to complete his tenure by conducting the union’s delegates conference which was scheduled to hold January 25, 2022.
In a letter dated November 15, 2021 to the General Secretary of the union, Comrade Mohammed Ibraheem Bomoi, and the NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba; the Northern Forum of NCSU, comprising all state councils of the union in the northern states resolved not to remit check-off dues to the National Secretariat of NCSU if Comrade Amaechi is allowed to continue as president after it has been confirmed that he has retired from the civil service.
In the letters signed by Comrade Zailani I. Kofarbai, Chairman of the Forum (and Chairman, Katsina State Council), Comrade Muhammadu Buhari, the Forum’s Treasurer (and Chairman, Gombe State Council), and Comrade Felix B. Ibi, Secretary to the Forum (and Chairman, Nasarawa State Council), the Northern Forum argued that in line with the constitution of the union, Comrade Amaechi has lost eligibility to be either a member of the union or preside over any organ meeting.
Northern Forum Insists Ameachi Must Go
National Record gathered that Comrade Wabba had convened a meeting with the leadership of the Northern Forum pleading with them to allow peace to reign in the union by allowing Comrade Amaechi to serve till the January 25th 2022 conference, assuring that he would personally supervise the conduct of the election at the conference.
Our correspondent gathered from a reliable participant at the meeting that in response, the members of the Northern Forum who attended responded that they were tired of the lingering crisis in the union which began in the first place from a retired president refusing to quit.
According to our findings, the Northern Forum’s representatives insisted that they will not remit their check-off under an “illegal leadership under Comrade Amaechi” and that they will instead be saving to fund their participation at the conference.
“Comrade Wabba knows our union has been in crisis since 2016 and he is not known to have made any effort to resolve the matter. The case has been in court and we are now awaiting judgement. Comrade Wabba is not contesting that Comrade Amaechi has not retired; he is only asking us to condone illegality. They are telling us that the highest organ has decided, but that decision is not supported by our constitution and the trade union law.
They should go and read the judgement that nullified the 2016 delegates conference where the judge explicitly stated that once a union member ceases to be a due-paying member, his membership of that union automatically terminates,” a union member who pleaded anonymity told National Record.
The source likened the situation to a dead man being allowed to lead the living. “Can the dead lead the living? The dead cannot lead the living. They know why we have been in court,” the source added stating that the highest role the NLC as a centre to which NCSU is affiliated is to declare the union’s conference open.
The source also stated: “It is not our union that Wabba is going to use as an example of illegality. This one that he is promising to personally conduct our election is not acceptable and it is strange to our constitution.”
Fresh Allegations of mismanagement of union’s funds
A new twist in the crisis is emerging as sources in the union has confided in National Record allegation of mismanagement of the union’s financial resources against Comrade Amaechi. It is being alleged that the retired president may have mismanaged funds, up to the sum of N1.72 billion.
The sources who independently corroborated the figure said the funds were remittances of check-off dues from the federal and state councils of the union from 2018 to 2021 and that the union has nothing to show on what such huge union resources were expended on.
NCSU Scribe Reacts
When contacted on the position of the Northern Forum, and the efforts of the NLC to resolve the disagreements so as to allow Comrade Amaechi to serve out his tenure, NCSU’s General Secretary, Comrade Mohammed Ibraheem Bomoi, said the decision to allow Comrade Amaechi continue until the conference was taken by the organs of the union and therefore stands.
“Nobody is acting as an individual. Everybody is acting based on the provisions of the constitution of the union. The organs of the union were those that gave him the mandate to conduct the election by 25th January ; the National Executive Council of the union and nobody is disputing that.”
When asked on the specific position of the Northern Forum in its letter and the meeting it had with Comrade Wabba, Comrade Bomoi said: “Let’s wait until that day now, what will happen. Normally, who presides over a delegates conference according to the constitution? It is the General Secretary! The Director of Labour, the representative of the Head of Service and the President of NLC will be there as witnesses. So, when that day comes, we will see who will conduct the conference.”
Asked why the retired President is insisting on superintending over the conference when his retirement is deepening the crisis in the union, the General Secretary asked: “Is it not the same organ of the union that gave him the mandate? It is there in the constitution, we have minutes of the meeting. Which section of the constitution that knows the Northern Caucus?
“As far as I am concerned, I am operating the constitution of the union 100 per cent based on the decisions of the organs of the union. I cannot decide for the union, neither can any individual or group, decide for the union.
“All of us were there; I’ve my minutes of meeting and they had given him [Amaechi] the go-ahead and if they didn’t make the clarion call for him to conduct the election, he cannot conduct my election. The responsibility for the conduct of National Delegates Conference is that of the General Secretary and that is what will happen.”
On the allegation that Comrade Amaechi may have mismanaged over N1.72 billion in the course of his single tenure, Comrade Bomoi first asked who was peddling such allegation and went ahead to accuse our correspondent of being eager to publish negative reports against NCSU.
He said: “You said they are saying; who is saying?” When told that members of his union have raised the allegation; Comrade Bomoi said: “Do you have the papers with you? I am not in receipt of that paper. Wallahi, I am not aware! I have not seen the papers, but if you are aware you can give me a copy so that I can authenticate. Seriously, I have no seen or heard the allegation. Nobody has written to me that Amaechi has spent N1.7 billion or what did you say? Nobody has sent any such allegation to me. I am not in receipt of such a petition; and I can’t talk on it; that one, it is EFCC and ICPC that can talk about that.
“But in three years, certainly, any president must spend money, so you can’t calculate that to say was there any spending that was not approved by National Executive Council. All reports are presented after every six months to the organs of the unions to say that this is what we generated and this is what we spent for approval.
“So if you calculate; and even if it is 50 billion naira; it is the union’s money and it is the organs that gave the mandate, and there was no query from the organs of the union to say why did you spend so, so and so; you cannot because somebody is going to take the cumulative figure that was generated and spent by the union, which was duly approved by the National Executive Council at is meetings to say that somebody had spent so-so amount of money; it is not done like that. Why didn’t they tell you how much Ojeli spent, how much Ede spent, how much Kiri spent? Will you do union without spending?
“Had it been there was a meeting that it was alleged that that money was stolen or was spent without the knowledge of the organs of the union; that will be an issue.
“Well, they didn’t say the union spent it; they said Amaechi; so they can go to court. You are asking me; I am the General Secretary of the Civil Service Union, I am not the Secretary to Amaechi; so on the allegation, you better ask Amaechi. For me as General Secretary of Civil Service Union, I am not aware of any allegation. If I am aware, I will not allow such thing to happen, but I am not aware, no organ of the union raised that issue. The union is not being run by individuals or friends or hangers on. It is run by organs, and since I came in, that is what I have been doing; it is constitution, constitution, constitution; organ, organ, organ. And as General Secretary, if the organs speak, I will say, this is what the organs said.”
Eftorts to get Comrade Amaechi to speak on the situation, particularly on allegations of mismanagement of the union’s resources failed as his mobile was said not to be available.
Similarly, the mobile numbers of both the NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, and that of the General Secretary, Comrade Emma Ugboaja, were also reportedly not reachable.
When caontacted, Comrade Kabiru Inuwa, the Chairman of Chairmen of NCSU State Councils, immediately sent a text responding that he was in a meeting and would return the call soon after the meeting. He however did not call back as at press time.
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