Crisis brews in Corporate Affairs Commission with Registrar-General, workers on war path

Unless the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Trade & Investment, quickly wades into the matter,  the crisis currently brewing in the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) of Nigeria, between its Registrar General and Chief/Chief Executive Officer and the workers may tear to organization apart in no distant future.

Already, amidst rising level of unemployment in the country, at least 200 staff of the Commission may have resigned their appointments in the last three years ahead of due retirement dates to escape possible dismissal, alleged high handedness and other harsh policies of the organization under the leadership of Alhaji Garba Abubakar, who was appointed the Registrar General and Chief Executive on January 7, 2020.

The CAC was established in 1990 vide Companies and Allied Matters Act no 1 (CAMA) 1990 as amended, now on Act cap C20 Laws of Federation of Nigeria. Its establishment, structure, and funding are now governed by the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020.

According to Abuja-based newspaper, DAILY ASSET, since assumption of office in  2020, Abubakar, who was hitherto a staff before his appointment has governed the frontline agency with an iron fist leading to mass resignation of the staff out of frustration.

Abubakar, Registrar-General/CEO of CAC

Others were actually forced to resign due to the administrative measures taken by management, investigations by the newspaper revealed.

“Due to high handedness, vindictive leadership style and gross incompetence, staff have been resigning from the Commission in droves” a source familiar with the situation maintained.

Obviously embarrassed by the mass resignations, the Registrar General had in June 2021 allegedly issued a circular to staff warning that the Commission would with hold for one year, the terminal benefits of any staff who voluntarily resigned.

As the resignations still continued unabated, Registrar General was said to have issued yet another circular on October 4, 2021, with the title “Notification of Exit from Service” in which he said the Commission would put on hold terminal benefits of staff to dissuade more workers from leaving.

The mass resignations was said to have shrunk the Commission’s workforce to a paltry 1,300 spread across 36 states of the Federation, where it has state offices and the Abuja headquarters.

Abubakar was said to have capitalised on the absence of a governing Board for nearly three years to operate the Commission’s activities on his whims and discretions and in some cases with impunity, it was alleged.

Investigations revealed that in order to pave way for his seemingly dictatorial style of leadership, the Registrar General unilaterally dissolved the staff Union- Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Employees (AUPCTRE), soon on assumption of office.

In its place, he was said to have inspired the formation of a parallel workers union- Senior Staff Association of Statutory Corporations and Government Owned Companies (SSASGOC) with an Executive Committee loyal to his management team, a source told DAILY ASSET.

And in order to wade off any opposition to the decision, Abubakar is alleged to have placed about 30 executive members of the Union(AUPCTRE) and other staff perceived as antagonistic to his policies on “punitive transfers” to 30 states of the federation, where the Commission has branch offices.

The transfers were said to have been carried out without recourse to staff needs or expertise required in the state offices.

Although the Commission was said to have expended about N50 million to settle transfer allowances for the affected the staff, the expenditure was heavily criticised as some staff considered it inappropriate in the circumstances of the Commission.

After the staff were successfully redeployed, the Registrar General was said to have directed that none of the transferred staff be allowed to proceed on annual leave, bereavement, casual or sick vacation, all in the bid to prevent any form of regrouping by the unionists.

“It is bare faced punishment” one of the affected staff, who didn’t want his name in print, told DAILY ASSET.

The obviously dissatisfied union leaders, had challenged the Commission’s decision to proscribe AUPCTRE in Court and actually obtained judgment.

However, the Registrar General himself a Lawyer was said to have declined compliance with the judgment of Court and instead proceeded to the Court of Appeal, where the matter was said to have been abandoned.

In another alleged act of impunity, a Deputy Director and Head, Department of Department (names withheld) was transferred on the orders of the Chief Executive to Enugu zonal office, barely a week after his assumption of office.

The said staff was subsequently accused of corrupt practices and suspended for six months from office without any evidence neither was due process followed.

It was learnt that the staff had challenged his suspension in Court and obtained favourable judgment at the National Industrial Court and the Commission was ordered to pay all his entitlements and a compensation of N2million.

Rather than comply with the Court Order, the CAC Chief Executive allegedly ordered another “punitive” transfer of the staff to Jalingo office and subsequently appealed against the judgment. However, a source said the Matter too might have been abandoned at the Appeal Court since the trial Court turned down the Commission’s application for stay of execution.

Also, exploiting the absence of a governing Board, the Registrar General is alleged to have unilaterally recruited two Directors (Human Resources and Finance and Accounts) in 2020 even when there was no budgetary allocation for such high level manpower.

In another instance, a Deputy Director, who had passed all prescribed examinations and adjudged competent to be promoted to the next rank of Director of ICT was blatantly told by the Commission’s boss that he would not be promoted. No reasons were advanced for this supposed victimisation, it was also learnt.

The alleged impunity of the Registrar General was capped by the recent suspension of Chairman of the proscribed AUPCTRE Chairman, a Principal Manager on GL14, whose suspension according to the Commission’s rules could only be approved by a governing Board.

Abubakar was also accused of “modern slavery” with the circular of December 25, 2021 in which he directed staff of the Commission not to use mobile phones while on duty.

“By the force of the said circular, staff were mandated to switch off their mobile phones and keep in a designated box until close of work effective January 2022”, a staff said of the situation.

The staff said the “disrespect of staff” and “violation of their rights” had been extended to Directors who reduced to personal staff of the Chief Executive in the daily operations of the Commission.

DAILY sought the response of the Registrar General through a letter dated June 20, to the RG seeking his comments on the specific allegations against him.

The letter was duly acknowledged on June 21, but there was no response from the Commission at the time of this report.

DAILY ASSET

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