The suspended Registrar of the Institute of Safety Professionals of Nigeria (ISPON), Mr Benson Adam-Otite has faulted his indefinite suspension by the institute, saying he remains the substantive Registrar.
Adam-Otite was allegedly suspended at a February 7, 2017 emergency meeting of the Governing Board of the institute which held in Lagos.
Safety Record Newspaper gathered that the immediate cause of the suspension was the controversial decision by the Registrar to declare an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) without recourse to the Governing Board, a move which was put on hold after it was challenged in court.
Other reasons for his purported suspension, it was gathered, include alleged serial disrespect for the office of the institute’s president and utter disregard for the Governing Board.
But in a chat with our reporter, Adam-Otite said the decision to suspend him was a unilateral decision by the President of the institute, Dr Nnamdi Ilodiuba, whom he accused of trying to force him out of the institute.
He said, “I’ve not been removed. Dr. Nnamdi Ilodiuba does not have the power to remove the Registrar without the Governing Board. Moreover, there are rules for engagement and disengagement and I’ve my letter of employment. I am still the substantive Registrar of the Institute of Safety Professionals of Nigeria.”
The embattled Registrar, who said there were currently 8 court cases involving the institute, added that he would have sought redress in a court of law but for his belief in “settlement of ISPON issues out of court.”
Stressing that no professional body could make progress amid plethora of court cases, Adam-Otite said, “Dr. Nnamdi Ilodiuba cannot force me to go to court…” because the institute has “internal mechanism for dispute/conflict resolution”.
Reacting, the Institute’s President, Ilodiuba denied unilaterally suspending the Registrar, stating that the decision was reached at a meeting of the Governing Board which held on February 7, 2017 in Lagos.
Ilodiuba said, “Yes, he has been removed; it was during a meeting of the Board that he was removed in Lagos on the 7th of February, 2017.”
He confirmed that a former Registrar of the institute, Mr Bola Aborode had been appointed in acting capacity to replace the “removed” Adam-Otite.
However, Adam-Otite insisted that the meeting was a ruse because the tenure of the present Governing Board had expired.
He further claimed that the number of Governing Board members present at the purported meeting was less than the number required to form a quorum, rendering whatever decision taken at the meeting null and void.
Adam-Otite said, “The meeting of the Board indeed. As (at) February 7, 2017, the tenure of the GB had expired. Moreover, that meeting did not form quorum. So on what authority could any decision at such meeting stand? The quorum at any Board meeting is 7 and they were 6 at that meeting, if really there was a meeting.”
When contacted, a member of the Board, Mr Evaristus Uzamere, who confirmed being at the controversial meeting, also referred our reporter to another member of the Governing Board for comment.
Meanwhile, Safety Record Newspaper obtained a handwritten attendance register of the meeting which showed that seven members of the institute’s Governing Board were present at the meeting and the meeting formed a quorum.
The seven members present at the meeting according to the document are Mr Dominic Aigbogun, Alhaji Lateef Alebiosu, Chief Innocent Okunamiri and Mr Evaristus Uzamere.
Others are Chief Chris Adigo, Dr Nnamdi Ilodiuba (president) and Mr Bola Aborode (Ag. Registrar).
While Mr Benson Adam-Otite also appeared on the list, “absent without apology” was written against his name.
Commenting on the attendance register, Adam-Otite said he had evidence that Chief Chris Adigo, a past president of the institute, was absent and sent a letter of apology, cutting the number of members present to six and making the meeting unable to form a quorum.
But the Acting Registrar, Bola Aborode, who confirmed being at the meeting, disputed Adam-Otite’s claim that Adigo was absent at the meeting.
Aborode said he saw Adigo personally sign his name on the attendance register “in his own handwriting”.
He added that he followed Adigo to the hotel after the close of meeting, wondering where the Adam-Otite got his information from.
Asked for the reasons given by the Governing Board for sending the substantive Registrar on indefinite suspension, Aborode, who is in his second stint as ISPON Registrar, said “There are many allegations against him.
“Number one, he wrote a letter out to members that there was going to be a meeting around January.
“The president gave me order to close the institute. I closed the institute with padlock. Otite came and broke the gate, even after the president had asked him who’re those behind the meeting and he said he didn’t know them.
“He broke the gate and the meeting was held. That’s number one.
“Number two, he called another Extraordinary General Meeting which is illegal because the Governing Board members said he did not contact them before organising for the EGM and the president warned him that he should not organise it.
“He told president that he was not ready to listen to him because nobody recognised them (president and Governing Board) because their tenure had expired and he’s the only one that is recognised, being the Registrar.
“He said the Board and the president are no more because no one recognised them again.
“Before they could hold the meeting, the Chairman of Lagos Branch (Engr. Timothy Iwuagwu) on the advice of the board went to court to stop that EGM and the case is still in the court.
“And then they accused him of lack of respect to the president.”
He added that he was chosen by the Governing Board members as Acting Registrar at the meeting after the substantive Registrar was placed on indefinite suspension.
When our reporter visited the ISPON Headquarters on Thursday, March 16 only skeletal activities were going on as the usually busy building was a shadow of its old self.
It was gathered that some of the institute’s workers stayed away to protest non-payment of their two to three months’ salaries and the suspension of Adam-Otite.