MEMBERS of the Federal Council of the Nigeria Civil Service Union (NCSU) on Tuesday picketed the Guarantee Trust Bank in Garki, Area 3, Abuja on the allegation of illegally freezing its account.
The account was said to have been frozen on the directive of the Public Trustee, Mr Monday O. Ubani, who was recently appointed by the President of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN), His Lordship, Honourable Justice B. B. Kanyip.
Comrade Prince R. A. Sani, Federal Council’s Secretary, who revealed this while speaking to newsmen in Abuja on Tuesday, February 2, 2021 during the picketing exercise, said the union realised that its account with GTB were frozen days ago when union officials wanted to access it.
He said apart from the information that the Public Trustee gave the directive, the bank did not give any reason why the directive was issued.
“Barely two or three days ago, we wanted to access our account and we realised that a restriction had been placed by the bank on the account without a valid court order,” Comrade Sani said, adding that when its officials went to the bank, they were rather told that they got a directive to freeze the account in a letter from the Public Trustee.
Expressing dismay at the situation, Comrade Sani said: “I think that we as a council, we are not in any court case with any organisation or anybody and courtesy demands that if our account will be frozen, even the bank has a duty to tell us. This is a bank we have been operating for the past 12 years.
“Two years ago, the same thing happened; they apologised when we wanted to take legal action against the bank; they apologised for that misconduct, and this time around again, they did it. Is it because we did not sue them at that time? Before you can freeze an account, there must be a valid court order, directing that freezing.
“We felt we should inform them; we wrote to them officially; all the Federal Administrative Council members, including the Federal Council Chairman, were here yesterday to deliver the letter and we told them that by the close of work yesterday, that if that account was not unfrozen, we will picket GT Bank, and that if by the end of today that account is not unfrozen, we will picket GTB throughout the nation tomorrow.”
According to Comrade Sani, the Public Trustee was appointed to conduct election into national offices of the union, and that at the moment, the account of the National Headquarters of the union has also been frozen; a situation he said the Federal Council is not contesting.
“We are Federal Council, if they are [freezing] our account, then they should go and [freeze] all the 36 states councils of the union. Why Federal Council? We are not in suit with anybody and this case is between the National Headquarters.”
Comrade Sani said while it is not contesting that the appointment of the Public Trustee, it is not aware of any court judgment against the election that brought the current executive of the Federal Council to office.
Reliable sources at NCSU’s National Secretariat familiar with the appointment of the National Trustee and the current uncertainty in the union told National Record on condition of anonymity that the freezing of the Federal Council’s account is because it is very strategic as most of the union’s finances come from there. “That is where about 80 to 90 per cent of the union’s revenue actually comes from; the Federal Council sustains the union mainly, so we’re not surprised the Trustee is taking that action;” one of the sources said.
Another source said in order to strategise on the next steps, the deposed National President of the NCSU, Comrade Lawrence Amaechi, has summoned a meeting of the National executive Council (NEC) meeting of the union for either Wednesday or Thursday in Abuja.
Prior to the impending meeting, a source from one of the state councils of the union told this reporter on Tuesday that sequel to the freezing of the account of the National headquarters, the defunct leadership of the union had issued an instruction directing state councils to henceforth stop remitting to the headquarters account but channel such to a new account which has been opened with an undisclosed bank or in the interim pay into an account hitherto maintained by the union’s National Council of States Chairmen; which the source said is illegal.
The union’s NEC is composed of all elected national officers, all states’ councils’ chairpersons and secretaries including the Federal Council as well as principal officers from the National Secretariat of the union.
National Record was not able to ascertain how the NEC meeting would be conducted, whether openly or clandestinely, as the NIC judgment had held that the union currently has no elected leadership having declared its delegates conference where the Comrade Lawrence Amaechi leadership as null and void.
The source also told this reporter that there is also apprehension at all the state councils of the union on the suspicion that the National Trustee might attempt to dissolve all the councils against the backdrop of the fact that elections into states offices were supervised by the nullified national leadership.
“For now we don’t know what is going to happen, but there is a huge uncertainty until the Trustee settles down. We’re afraid he might decide to dissolve all state councils and appoint caretaker committees. The court judgment did not say that, but you know lawyers, they can argue that it is implied. At least someone with fair knowledge of the law told me when the Trustee took over,” a source confided in National Record.