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Weeds, reptiles take over Kano Chamber of Commerce as leadership tussle lingers

By Murtala Adewale, Kano
14 September 2022   |   2:58 am
Six months after the suspension of council members of the Kano Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (KACCIMA), the popular trade fair complex along Zoo road,

Kano Chamber of Commerce

Concern stakeholders appeal to govt to reopen chambers
Business community loses investment worth N5 billion in six months

Six months after the suspension of council members of the Kano Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (KACCIMA), the popular trade fair complex along Zoo road, is being taken over by weeds and reptiles.

The busy investment and trade hub is presently a ghost of its former self following the forceful eviction of the chamber’s administrative staff and entire activities shut down and placed under lock by police command in the state.

The Kano State government early in the year announced the dissolution of the Abubakar Dalhatu-led executive council of the chamber and approved a nine-member caretaker committee to take over the affairs of the KACCIMA for the next six months.

Kano Chamber of Commerce

The sack, as directed by the office of the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Alh. Usman Alhaji was premised on the leadership crisis rocking the council and the inability to conduct a fresh and acceptable election, since the expiration of their tenure.

Investigation revealed that a problem ensued in the chamber when some aggrieved stakeholders accused the Dalhatu-led executive of misappropriation and other atrocities. The impasse assumed a fresh dimension when the aggrieved party led by one Alh. Muntari Gashash, approached the court to dissolve the leadership of the Dalhatu council and ultimately prevent them from conducting fresh elections.

Apparently dissatisfied with the position of the opposing party, the outgoing executive filed a counter application challenging the prayers of the Gashash-led party. The executive argued that the act under which the limited liability company is established does not recognise caretaker members.

Kano Chamber of Commerce

Consequently, the court ruled against the Gashash-led opposition members and directed the Dalhatu council to conduct an election.

It was while the council was about to constitute the process of transition of new leadership that the state government ordered the suspension of the chamber’s leadership and announced a nine-member committee to restore peace and reconciliation in the council.

Although many stakeholders perceived the decision of the government as highly influenced by some interested parties, others viewed it differently.

Nevertheless, the government has entrusted the Lawan Garo-led caretaker committee to organise the contentious election within six months, as well as to restore peace and sanity in the activities of the chamber.

Six months after taking over, the interim leadership imposed by the government has neither been able to conduct fresh elections nor has it restored sanity to the chamber. The development is leaving several tongues wagging, including those challenging the power of government to preside over the affairs of the chamber.

A Kano-based legal professional, Barr. Abdulazeez Adam Ahmad argued that the constitution of the caretaker committee was in violation of the provision of the Companies and Allied Matter Act. 2020.

Ahmad claimed that the Kano State government lacked the requisite and statutory power to interfere or prevail on a matter bordering on a company guaranteed under a limited liability and insisted that doing so amounted to the gross misconduct of the position of the law.

“I understand that the matter is already before the court and the court has issued an order restraining any party from taking over the affairs of the chamber pending the determination of the matter, meaning that all parties must maintain a status quo. But I was surprised that the government constituted a caretaker committee to manage the affairs of a company.

“This is not acceptable or recognized by the Company and Allied Matters Act. Nobody can prevail on a company guaranteed under limited liability other than the members of the company. Government has no business in the entire matter. It is wrong and it is a violation of the act. I hope the government and security men deployed to shut down the facility will realise the position of the law and withdraw. Rather, the government should have allowed the court to determine the entire matter without interference,” Ahmad explained.

Nevertheless, the Chairman of the caretaker committee constituted by the government, Alh. Lawan Sule Garo, told The Guardian that there was no intention to violate the instruction of the court in whatever assignment given to the committee.

Explaining that though the government directed them to conduct elections and resolve the crisis among stakeholders in the chamber, Garo noted that the committee could not carry out any task following a court order restraining further action.

Efforts to speak with Alh. Muntari Gashash and the Vice President of the chamber, Alh. Usman Darma, the two principal contenders on the matter were not successful. While Darma was said to be in Saudi Arabia for lesser hajj, Alh. Gashash could not respond to calls and text messages.

Further inquiry on why the trade fair complex where the chamber’s secretariat resides was still under lock, also proved abortive. The Police Public Relations Officer, SP Abdullahi Haruna Kiyawa, did not respond to calls and text messages sent to his official line.

Meanwhile, the immediate National Chairman, Nigeria Association of Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Alh. Mohammad Adam Mohammad expressed concern that the closure of KACCIMA in the last seven months has inflicted colossal damage on business and investment, as well as local and foreign trades worth an average of N5 billion.

Besides, Mohammad disclosed that over 300 international passports of business and investment partners are pending in the last six months because of the total collapse of administrative activities in the chamber.

Mohammad, who is the Managing Director, Guarantee Impex Global Services Limited, appealed to the Kano State government to resolve the crisis in the economic interest of the state.

“It is quite unfortunate for the Kano chamber of commerce, the second largest chamber of commerce in Nigeria after Lagos, to be shut down because of a leadership crisis, which I believed shouldn’t have affected the administrative business of the secretariat.

“It causes a lot of damages and colossal loss to local and foreign businesses and quantifying the amount is not easy for anybody to say, but you can only predict on average. And I can conveniently say from February to date since the chamber shutdown, we in Kano, have lost over N5billion.

“It is equally important to note that no foreign investors or international forums which are mostly held in Kano have ever taken place in the last seven months. And KACCIMA is traditionally in charge of facilitating and linking investment opportunities to the state that has been put on hold. All our domestic activities have been obstructed. For instance, the Africa Continental Free Fair Agreement Area, the KACCIMA and German Corporation, the National SME Summit, which is supposed to hold in Kano, Nigeria exports promotion council event, a programme with the Development Bank of Nigeria, and other activities mostly facilitated by KACCIMA, could not hold.

“Also the chamber cannot organise trade missions to the United Kingdom, Canada, Italy, Germany, Bangladesh and many others, which KACCIMA mostly facilitated to lead the Kano business community to attract foreign investment could not hold. The Kano Trade fair which is our major trade exhibition, may not also hold because there is no preparation for that as we speak. Asset depreciation is another major loss in the chamber. Our offices, computers, pavilion and much other asset damage cannot be quantified. The damages are not for Kano alone, but Northern Nigeria because we have many people that take advantage of KACCIMA to facilitate their business and investment. We can only beg the state government to please intervene,” Mohammed pleaded.