Segun Oladipupo |
The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) has dared the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) to deregister it over its (NAGAFF) challenge of the status of the regulatory body in court.
CRFFN had on December 6, 2019, threatened a possible expulsion of NAGAFF members from the Council if its concerned members were not called to order.
Speaking yesterday at the association’s headquarters, its legal adviser, Barr. Okwudili Alagbu, who addressed journalists on the threat by the CRFFN, explained that they received the threat letter from the agency following their letter to the National Assembly (NASS) for which the CRFFN was copied.
Alagbu added that their NASS letter became necessary because of the planned amendment of some sections of the CRFFN Act for which some of their members had been in court.
He made it clear that the same sections the Council was seeking to amend at the NASS were the same areas of contention in which their members were seeking for court’s interpretation.
Recall that two of NAGAFF members had approached the Federal High Court to interpret if the CRFFN is a private establishment or government agency according to the Act establishing it.
The court ruled that it was a government agency. Not satisfied with the verdict, the two members approached the Appeal Court where the matter is currently pending.
Following the proposed amendment of the contentious sections by the NASS, NAGAFF wrote the Senate President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the relevant committees reminding them of the pendency of the matter in court.
Consequently, the Chairman, Governing Council of CRFFN, Tsanni A. Abubakar, wrote the letter referenced CRFFN/CGC/CFFA/001/01 to the NAGAFF President.
“We note with dismay that the plaintiff/appellants in the suit are said to be registered freight forwarders and members of your association, NAGAFF.
We, therefore, draw your attention to Section 19 and 20 of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) Act (Professional Misconduct and Discipline) Regulation, 2010 which states among others that “No freight forwarder, association of Freight Forwarders, professional body/institute and Training Institution shall (1) Take their complaints against each other and/or the CRFFN to the public or press; (2) Without the exhausting the statutory channels provided by the CRFFN in resolving disputes have recourse to court action”, the Chairman stated.
He went further, “Section 20 has spelled out the penalty which includes (1) Be expelled from the Council, (2) Have its name struck out from the register of CRFFN: Copy attached”.
He subsequently gave NAGAFF December 20, 2019, to direct its concerned members to withdraw the Appeal and address their complaints to him (the undersigned) “who is the Chairman, Freight Forwarders Disciplinary Tribunal”.
Alagbu described the threat as holding no water, as according to him, the suit “has been there all this while; why are they threatening now?”
For him, it was a panic measure that they must counter.
Alagbu explained that the Sections quoted as sanction were a mere in-house by-law of the Council, which could neither override the Council Act nor the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The fiery lawyer assured that NAGAFF would not allow its members to be threatened or cowed, saying “of course we’ll obtain an injunction to stop them”.
He maintained that the intendment of the drafters of the CRFFN Act never imagined the agency to become a government establishment, an aberration he said NAGAFF wanted to correct, hence the litigation for interpretation of the Council’s real status.
Barr. Alagbu cited Section 6 and Section 10 of the 3rd Schedule of the Act all of which, he observed projected the Council as a private entity.
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