… Maintains strong support for Dr Tommy Okon leadership, stability, prosperity
In a very strong reaction to the vandalization of its national secretariat by purported criminal elements on Friday 21, October, the South South Forum of the Association of Senior Civil Servants (ASCSN), has declared the expelled former national chairman of the association, Mr Bola-Audu Innocent, persona non grata.
The decision came as a tit-for-tat move after Bola-Audu reportedly led armed hoodlums to launch a series of attacks on the National Secretariat of the ASCSN, ripping offices open, catering away official sensitive documents, bank cheques and cash. Staff on duty were also critical injured by the wiered hoodlums. The attack is the second evasion in two months.
On March 16th, 2021, the National Executive Council of the union suspended Mr. Bola-Audu as its president following his arraignment before a FCT High Court by the National Agency for Prohibition in Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) on alleged involvement in human trafficking and exploitation of vulnerables.
The scandal tarnished a once-powerful organization and left many of its 400,000 active members angry and disillusioned.
Again, the revelations stemming from his short reign included lavish spending of the association funds, embezzlement and widespread corruption which culminated to his expulsion from the ASCSN
In the scandal’s wake, the Association elected Dr Tommy Okon as his replacement, and Okon has since carried out ethics reforms and changes to its financial procedures.
In a press conference in Asaba, Delta State, the chairman of the South South Forum of ASCSN, Comrade Bolum Nwachukwu, said members have agreed to declare Bola-Audu and his cohorts as persona non grata, after Justice D. E. Osiagor of the Lagos High Court has ordered Bola Audu and his crooks to immediately vacate the National Secretariat of ASCSN in Lagos or face the wrath of the law.
In a judgment handed down on Wednesday 26 October 2022, Justice Osiagor ruled that it is an abuse of court process for Bola-Audu and his fellow travellers to bring a trade union matter already being handled by the National Industrial Court (NIC) in Abuja to his court.
He accordingly vacated and discharged his earlier order which allowed Bola Audu entry to the Secretariat.
The Judge also lifted the embargo placed on the bank accounts of the Association and restored Comrade Tommy Etim Okon and Comrade Alade Bashir Lawal, the National President and the Secretary-General of the Union respectively as the authentic and legal signatories to the bank accounts of the Association.
Osiagor held that since the matter before him is an intra-union dispute, he has no jurisdiction to enter trial moreso because the Applicant himself has taken his case to the NIC in Abuja where he is praying the court to compel appropriate organs of the Union to revoke his suspension, expulsion and reinstate him as the National President of the Association.
The Judge further described the case brought before him by Bola Audu as forum shopping and abuse of court processes. He accordingly dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction.
Speaking with journalists, Comrade Bolum said the vandalization of the association’s properties and constant siege on the national secretariat is wholly unwarranted, undermine democracy and run contrary to the ASCSN’s objectives.
He further described the invasion as a ‘hostile action’ as well as ‘gross violation of the commitments by the ASCSN members
“We hope that the perpetrators are brought to swift and immediate justice. Attempts to link such heinous actions with mere association leadership tussles are a deviation and misrepresentation of criminal acts and contravention of Nigeria constitution’s strong prohibition against harming innocent workers, burglary, demaging Association properties, stealing and banditry,” Bolum said.
“He has been expelled by the National Executive Council and we in the South South thereby declare him “persona non grata” and notified that he should stay clear from the Association. Audu is no longer welcome.
“We request all the branches and chapters across the country to declare Audu and his cohorts as persona non grata as soon as possible.
“The invasion is unacceptable, and all aggrieved members must respect their obligations under civil sevice rule, including the protection of ASCSN constitution.
“We maintain our strong support for Dr Tommy Etim Okon leadership, its stability, and prosperity, including that of every member of ASCSN.
“We further reinforce our commitment to stand with the Comrade Tommy Etim Okon for as long as it takes,” Bolum said.
Additionally, after meeting in Asaba, the South South Forum of ASCSN took a stringent position contained In a Communique issued to the press and signed by Comrade Martin Bolum; Prince E. O. Efedhoma ; Comrade Monday Ogbodum; Comrade Victor Udofa; Comrade Moses T. Udo ; Comrade Kingsley Bassey ; Comrade Wasah James Joseph ; Comrade Obaide Frank; Comrade Dennis Oshioke; Comrade Daniel Udo; Comrade Austin Jonah; Comrade June Danagogo; Comrade Emiantor Luke; Comrade Onojeje T. Kelvin: Comrade Oputu Paul Doubofeghe ; Comrade Ebi Sikpi; Comrade Clarkson Otu Esq.
Communique read in parts:
“Consequent upon the attack on the National Secretariat of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN) in Yaba-Lagos by some retired staff and expelled members of the Association led by the former President Mr. Bola Audu Innocent; and the judgment of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos over the matter instituted by Mr. Bola Audu, the Zonal Chairman Comrade Bolum Martin Nwachukwu convened a meeting of the South-South forum to weigh in on the issues in order to take a clear position.
“The forum members consisting of members of the Central Working Committee (CWC) from the Zone, Branch/Chapter Chairmen and State Secretaries from the six states of the South-South met in Asaba on Friday 28Th October, 2022 to discuss the issues.
“At the end of the discussions, the following resolutions were agreed upon:
i. The Forum in session condemned in totality the unwarranted invasion of the National Secretariat by the former President Mr. Bola Audu, some retired staff and expelled members of the Association leading to the destruction of properties and carting away of cash and valuable documents from the Secretariat.
ii. The Forum in session advised Mr. Bola Audu and his co-travelers to tow the path of decency and honour by embracing the judicial process in their search for remedy to their unfortunate situation.
iii. The Forum equally warned Mr. Bola Audu and his cohorts that the silence of the Association in the face of these incessant and wanton attacks should not be misconstrued for weakness as the platform has all it takes to put them where they rightly belong (behind bars).
iv. The Forum notes that inspite of this unfortunate occurrence, there is no amount of intimidation, harassment or the employment of commando or gangster approach that will reverse the fate of Mr. Bola Audu’s removal from office. A Decision that was taken by a well constituted and appropriate organ of the Association in March, 2021.
v. The Forum in session call on the National leadership of the Association to wield the big stick in its hands and ensure that Mr. Bola Audu and his co-travelers and all who in one way or the other have aided or abetted Mr. Audu in his onslaught against the Association are made to face the law. There should be no mercy for the wicked. Enough should be Enough.
vi. The Forum also call on all well meaning stakeholders in the trade union movement to condemn the activities of Bola Audu and his group of mis-adventurers and advise them to stay clear of the National Secretariat of the Association.
vii. The Forum in session equally calls on the Inspector General of Police and all other security agencies to quickly invite Mr. Bola Audu for questioning in order to avoid the breakdown of law and order.
viii. The Forum in session commended the National leadership of the Association on the handling of the situation so far and congratulated the President and the Secretary General on the success recorded at the Federal High Court, Lagos on Wednesday, 26Th October, 2022 against Mr. Bola Audu and his band of wayfarers.
ix. The Forum commended the ingenuity, doggedness and commitment of the National President Comrade (Dr.) Tommy Etim Okon and the Secretary General, Comrade Alade Bashir Lawal in ensuring that the obnoxious orders obtained by Mr. Bola Audu through falsehoods against the Association were all vacated. A victory well deserved.
x. The Forum again commended the National leadership for their steadfastness and passed a vote of confidence on the National President Comrade (Dr.) Tommy Etim Okon, the Secretary General, Comrade Alade Bashir Lawal and indeed all the members of the Central Working Committee for steadying the ship of the Association in these very trying times.
In Conclusion, the Zonal Chairman, Comrade Bolum, Martin Nwachukwu appreciated members for heeding his invitation inspite of the short notice and challenges on the roads. He noted that this showed commitment and loyalty to the platform.”