Things fall apart at PENGASSAN as aggrieved members head to court

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There are strong indications that the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) may be in for a long drawn court case as its election crisis deepen.

The president of PENGASSAN, Comrade Francis Johnson has been fingered for being responsible for the instability in the association made up of senior personnel who play important roles in exploration, production, export of oil and gas as well as, refining and distribution of petroleum products.

Investigations showed that the immediate past National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Seyi Gambo–led aggrieved members have headed to the Abuja High Court over alleged constitutional breaches by Comrade Francis Olubode Johnson – led Central Working Committee.

In a letter dated January 8, 2016, a copy of which was given to the media, the Plaintiff’s solicitor, Mr. Olaoluwa Ariyo of Seal Chambers, Abuja told the president and secretary general of PENGASSAN that: “We solicitors to Plaintiff on the above subject matter and it is on their instruction we write this letter. We wish to inform you that the Plaintiffs have commenced an action against you and 10 others before the Federal Territory High Court sitting in Abuja in respect of issues arising from the botched PEF (M) B Branch election and the breach of the rights of some members.”

“As the matter is pending before the court, we urge you to abide by the principles of the Rules of Law by staying all actions pending the final determination of this suit. Please find attached the originating processes for your perusal and ensure that the status quo is maintained.”

“Please note that anything contrary to the above position will be inimical to justice and shall be thoroughly challenged by the Plaintiffs,” he added.

The concerned members had in a letter to the Central Working Committee, (dated December 4, 2015) maintained that: “We write to convey our concerns pertaining to the recent electoral process earlier scheduled for the 30th of November, 2015 to elect Branch Executive Council members of the Association i.e the PEF(M)B Branch which was abruptly discontinued and deferred indefinitely.”

“Worthy of note is the fact that the above mentioned names and representatives are bonafide and qualified members of the Association having fulfilled the constitutional requirements to so qualify as provided for by the extant provisions of the enabling law of the Association. Our rights as reserved thereto, to bring this complaint are therefore borne out of goodwill, solidarity and patriotism in ensuring that the Association is insulated from imminent reckless abuse of office and impunity.”

“It is sacrosanct to bring to the knowledge of the central working committee (CWC) National Executive Council (NEC) the underlying Irregularities perpetrated particularly by the constituted Electoral Committee led by Comrade Sanusi Abdurahim which ab-initio was equipped with the sole mandate to successfully conduct the Branch elections on the aforementioned date. The action or inaction of the electoral body as constituted, we believe , has occasioned a reckless abuse of the salient provisions of the constitution of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria ( PENGASSAN) – (as amended 2013), which puts questionmarks to the credibility and integrity of the electoral committee. Hence, the disposition of the said Electoral Committee to the conduct of the election falls short of fairness, equity and justice,” it added.

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The concerned members maintained that: “It must be re-emphasised above all other issues and to state as background to the embedded issues herein that the Association’s constitution is supreme and its provisions shall be binding on ALL members, authorities and persons in all the offices of the Association. And that the Association SHALL be governed ONLY in accordance with the provisions of the Association’s constitution. We strongly commend to your notice Rules 2.2 & 2.4 of the Association’s constitution (as amended).”

The members further complained about what they refered to as the unlawful disqualification of Comrade Billyaminu Sabo, unlawful suspension of Comrade Seyi Gambo and tenure enlongation of the Branch Executive Council before making some prayers.

The prayers include a declaration that the purported disqualification of comrade Bilyaminu Sabo by the Electoral committee led by Comrade Sanusi Abdurahim on the 30th November, 2015 is unlawful and of no substance and a directive that comrade Bilyaminu Sabo be declared to contest for the office of PEF (M) B Branch chairman of the association in the rescheduled election having stood eligible.

They also include a declaration that the suspension of Comrade Seyi Gambo is a flagrant aberration of the Constitution of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior staff association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), and therefore to the extent of its inconsistency, null and void and a directive that ALL rights and privileges to which comrade Seyi Gambo is entitled to in his capacity as a member of the Association be fully restored to him.

The prayers include a declaration that the extension of the term of office of the immediate past PEF (M) B Branch Executive Council of the Association is unconstitutional and a flagrant abuse of constitution of the petroleum and natural gas senior staff association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) and a directive that the immediate past PEF (M) B Branch executive council of the association henceforth cease, discontinue and desist from parading and conducting themselves in such ways or manners as to portray them as officers of the Branch Executive council , their term in office having ended.

They also include a directive that the National Executive Council with immediate effect constitute an interim committee with a minimum number of 5 persons , which shall oversee the affairs (administrative and otherwise) of the PEF (M) B Branch , for a period not exceeding three (3) months certain, pending when elected officers shall assume office and the establishment of a new electoral body to conduct fresh elections to the vacant PEF (M) B Branch Executive Council offices as the said Comrade Sanusi Abdurahim led electoral committee has lost its credibility.

When contacted, Comrade Seyi Gambo, who was PENGASSAN National Public Relations Officer, PRO and by extension a member of the Central Working Committee, before aspiring to become its president declined to comment on the issues, arguing that the case is already in court.

In a related development, ‎a source in the PEF Branch of PENGASSAN said members have been complaining against the PEF Branch Executive Committee led by Comrade Aminu Ahmed who continually uses his close relationship to Comrade Johnson to undermine PENGASSAN constitution. Instead of holding a bye election when there was two vacancies in the local branch as required by the constitution, Aminu appointed one of his cronies to serve as Branch Assistant Secretary, Branch Industrial Relations Officer (IRO) and Branch Public Relations Officer (PRO) in a branch with more than 200 members.

The source also hinted that a sum of about N600 million of subscribers funds to the PENGASSAN Housing project in Lokogoma Abuja was said to be unaccounted for.

When contacted, the immediate past spokesman of PENGASSAN declined speaking about the court case, but promised to meet the press next week on issues bothering on corruption in PENGASSAN, retirement scandals, the inglorious role of some PENGASSAN members played during the oil subsidy strike and poor educational qualifications of prominent officers in the union which he said are among the reasons PENGASSAN is faltering in its contract with workers.