A new factional governing board has emerged for the Institute of Safety Professionals of Nigeria (ISPON), further enmeshing the already crisis-ridden body into controversy.
Since the botched Annual General Meeting of the institute in Awka, Anambra State in November 2016, the institute has been sharply divided along two factional lines, with many members accusing the governing board led by embattled ISPON President, Dr Nnamdi Ilodiuba of undue tenure elongation.
The governing board has strenuously denied the allegation, with Ilodiuba and some other members of the board basing their decision to call off the AGM on “legal advice,” in separate chats with Safety Record Newspaper.
Further internal wrangling, including dissension within the state branches and “suspension” and subsequent “sacking” of substantive Registrar, Mr Benson Adam-Otite, culminated in the convening of a controversial Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) in Warri, Delta State by Adam-Otite on June 24, 2017, and the “election” of governing board members for the institute.
According to an advertorial published on page 30 of The Punch Newspaper of Thursday, June 29, 2017, the elected principal officers include: Mr Malgwi Yusuf Haruna (President); Mr Ajobo Uni Edward, JP (Deputy President); and Mr. Benson Adam-Otite (Registrar).
Elected as members of the board, according to the public notice, are: Mr Harriman I. Oyofo; Mr. Emmanuel E. Akpokodje; Mr Shaw Fregene; Mr. Kaizer G. Ebiwari; Mr. Vizor I. Paago and Mr. Patrick Dakwal.
Other elected members include Ugoeze Selema M. Nwoye; Mr Felix E.K. Nakpodia; Mr. Ezekiel T. Yakubu; and Simplicius U. Anyahara.
The advertorial read in part: “Owing to the tenure expiration of the transitional Governing Board of the Institute of Safety Professionals of Nigeria on 26th November, 2016, without the Annual General Meeting (AGM), an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) was held on Saturday, 24th June, 2017, at the ISPON Secretariat, 7 Tony Mene-Akpata, Off Ogunu Road, Ugbuwangwue, Warri, Delta State, Nigeria; in lieu of the AGM and elections were held in line with section 5 of the Institute of Safety Professionals of Nigeria Act 2014.”
The advertorial that was signed by the Registrar cautioned the members of the institute and the general public against any dealing with the “Transition Governing Board” on behalf of the institute.
However, some members of the Ilodiuba-led governing board in separate chats have described the Warri EGM as an illegality that cannot stand the test of time.
In a telephone conversation with Safety Record Newspaper, a member of the board, Chief Innocent Okunamiri said the Warri EGM was inconsistent with the provisions of the Act guiding the institute and in violation of a court injunction.
“We have ISPON Act 2014 which says that elections can only be held at an Annual General Meeting, not Emergency General Meeting. That’s one.
“Two, there was a court injunction prevailing on the court to stop that EGM but Delta and Rivers state branches – two branches – went ahead.
“But time will tell whether what they did was constitutional or not.”
The erstwhile Registrar of the institute added, “Time will tell whether they did the right thing or not… because if there was a court injunction and this was not obeyed, it is left for government to do whatever is necessary.
“It’s not for me; I can’t tell you what will happen or what the court is supposed to do.
“If the court says don’t do this and you flout it, you know the consequence.”
He was however silent on whether the board will be going to court over the matter.
Another member of the board and pioneer president of the institute, Mr. Dominic Aigbogun, described the Warri EGM as illegal because it contravened a court order.
He said, “There was a court injunction against the EGM which they held. That Extraordinary General Meeting seems to contravene that court injunction.”
However, he refused to rule out the option of legal redress after due consultation.
Asked if the Ilodiuba-led board will be going to court, he said, “I don’t know (yet). When I see the president, I will know what to say to him.”
When contacted for comments, the embattled president promised to get back to our reporter but has yet to do so as at the time of filing this report.
But reacting, a key stakeholder in the institute who preferred anonymity said the circumstances that brought about the calling of the EGM should be considered in deciding the legality or not of the Warri EGM.
The source said, “One has to get honest answers for the following questions first:
“Who has the power to call for EGM?
“Were there no cases in court before the last AGM was called for Awka?
“Were there no cases in court before elections were conducted in branches?
“What is the quorum for Governing Board of ISPON according to the ISPON Act?
“Was there true governing board quorum at the meeting that suspended the Registrar?
“If the registrar’s suspension meets ISPON Act as quoted and meeting referred to in February 2017 and the court ruling on the Registrar’s call for EGM being faulted by a higher court.”
“The EGM convened at Uyo by an acting Registrar if it meets ISPON Act 2014?
“If the meeting in Uyo extends the tenure of the President and the Governing Board members? Any provision for that in the ISPON Act 2014?”
When asked about the legality or otherwise of the EGM, the source noted, “legality is a matter of legal interpretation which requires those qualified to interpret the law based on the questions advanced.”
The newly-elected Registrar, Adam-Otite could not be reached for comments as several calls, a text message and WhatsApp messages sent to his number were unanswered as at the time of filing this report.