Chief Innocent Okunamiri is a member of the Governing Board of the Institute of Safety Professionals of Nigeria (ISPoN) and the Chairman of the institute’s Electoral Committee. He enters this list as a result of the acrimony that surrounded the conduct of electoral exercises at the national and state levels of the institute in 2016, some of which led to filing of court cases.
One of such was the October 7 election of Lagos state branch executives which saw many of the aspirants disqualified by Okunamiri’s electoral committee. Like chairmanship aspirant Lucky Oderhohwo, many of the aspirants were disqualified for failing to meet up to the requirements of section 13 of ISPoN electoral guideline which requires any person vying for a post to attend 75 per cent of monthly state branch meetings in a calendar year the election is scheduled for or provide substantial evidence why they could not do so. Some of the aggrieved members accused the electoral committee chairman of acting out a prepared script meant to keep them out of the election by all means. He denied those accusations.
Another controversy also engulfed Okunamiri’s electoral committee during ISPoN’s 35th Professional Development Conference and Annual General Meeting of November 24-26 in Awka, Anambra state. The first two days were earmarked for conference and the last day reserved for the AGM, during which the institute’s presidential election was meant to hold. But members of the institute were thrown into confusion towards the closing of the second day’s business by Okunamiri’s announcement that the AGM had been cancelled.
He based the decision on legal advice from the institute’s lawyer following a court injunction obtained by the Delta state branch which prohibited the institute from conducting the election. However, many of the bemused members wondered why a court injunction that could not stop elections in some state branches of the institute suddenly became the excuse for cancelling the presidential election. Again, many members accused him of bias and acting a prepared script. This time, they accused him of scheming to perpetuate the current president of the institute in office, as the date of another election was not fixed.
However, when reached for comments on the allegations, Okunamiri accused some people he described as “ambitious” as deliberately reading different meanings into the cancellation to suit their purposes.
He said in a November 28 telephone chat with Safety Record, “Initially, Delta state branch brought summons to me as the chairman, electoral committee barring me from continuing with the elections in the various areas.
“But when we asked our lawyer, our lawyer said it was ordinary summons, not court injunction yet.
“We carried on with our assignment and then the case was heard in the court about last week.
“And the same lawyer advised us that since this matter’s in the court, if we should continue with the election and AGM, it would be contempt.
“And that as law-abiding citizens let us step down until this matter is finally settled.
“It was simple as that. That is what actually happened, nothing else.”
Engr. Timothy Iwuagwu is the Chairman of the Lagos state branch of the Institute of Safety Professionals of Nigeria (ISPoN). The branch under him remits the highest amount to the national coffers of the institute, and has fine-tuned the process of payment of salaries and honoraria.
However, he enters this list for controversies surrounding his second term bid. His second term ambition pitched him against some of his state executives who were not particularly fond of his leadership style. Specifically, they accused him of sidelining them and running a one-man show. They further said he was taking important decisions in the state branch without involving them because he enjoyed the support of the institute’s president.
However, in an interview published in the October 2016 edition of Safety Record Newspaper, Iwuagwu denied that he was not carrying his executives along as claimed and counter-accused them of trying to pull down his government. In the interview, he cited different instances where he attended several fora and executed projects in company of some of his current executives, some former executives and other floor members of the branch.
If his detractors read the interview, they certainly thought it bunkum. The venue of the October 7 election of the state branch executives became a raucous session as disgruntled members of the branch heckled the electoral committee endlessly.
Some aggrieved state executives and members of the branch implied collusion between Iwuagwu and ISPoN Electoral Committee Chairman, Chief Innocent Okunamiri, to grant the former a safe passage to his second term dream by disqualifying anyone that could pose a threat to him, including his major challenger for the branch chairmanship position, Lucky Oderhohwo. Perhaps tired of being so disturbed, the electoral committee officials were said to have staged a walk-out, effectively but non-definitively ending the electoral exercise of that day.
The aggrieved parties said Iwuagwu was a beneficiary of an imposition agenda and lambasted him and those behind an alleged secret swearing-in exercise.
Dr. Nnamdi Ilodiuba is the President of the Institute of Safety Professionals of Nigeria (ISPoN). He was elected the president of the body in November 2013, having previously held the position of Deputy President. Under his tenure, the institute in November 2016 signed a landmark Memorandum of Understanding with Board of Certified Safety Professionals, its American counterpart.
He is in this category for several issues that played out in the course of his official duties. He allegedly unilaterally closed down the Delta State Branch of the institute which led to a court case being filed by the branch at a Federal High Court, Warri. Also, as a fall out of the 35th Conference and AGM of the institute, he was accused of plotting with the electoral committee chairman to prolong the lifespan of his administration under the pretext of obeying a court order.
Edward Uni Ajobo is the Delta State Branch Chairman of the Institute of Safety Professionals of Nigeria (ISPoN). He is a well-known safety professional in Nigeria, participating in various safety fora far and wide. He makes this list as a result of the current tussle between Delta state branch and the president of the institute, who closed down the branch over a disagreement. The case is currently in court.
Fouad Oki is a former Director General of the Lagos State Safety Commission. He was appointed in September 2015. Under his leadership, many erring companies and industrial sites were shut over non-compliance with safety regulations and best practice. Prominent among those was the Ikeja Shoprite mall. He got in the eye of the storm early 2016 when he was wrongly quoted to have said that he was the only safety professional in Lagos state. Although he has since denied making such an assertion, it was widely circulated within safety circles in the state. However, he confirmed to Safety Record that he said he would not meet any delegation of safety professionals in the state because he did not recognise them as they were not registered with LSSC as practitioners.