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Crisis of intergrity, leadership hits ICAN

by Business News Report

By Omoh Gabriel

A crisis of Integrity and leadership is currently tearing the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria apart. Members are angry over what they see as deceit and concealment of facts by the ICAN leadership, a body set up to regulate accounting practice in Nigeria.

Trouble started for the body when at the annual general meeting of the body last month,  a motion meant to revote the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the institute and Babcock University was stepped down on the briefing by then President that there was a court injunction barring members from discussing the issue. ICAN had entered into an MoU with Babcock that its students will take only the Part II examination of the institute upon graduation.

ICAN had intended at the said AGM to void the agreement, but the university took the matter to court. As the case has just been filed and has not been heard, the President hurriedly at the AGM of the body withdrew the motion slated for consideration on the grounds that there was an injunction restraining the institute from considering the   motion.

But to the chagrin of members, there was no injunction at the time of the AGM.

According to documents sighted by Vanguard, ICAN had written to members saying; “Members are herein informed that the proposed motion on review of the MoU between Babcock University and ICAN billed to be discussed at the AGM on the 31st of May 2013, has been put on hold for the following reasons: Some lecturers, ICAN members, students of Babcock University and Benson Idahosa University filed a suit against ICAN and prayed for the following reliefs: AN ORDER of Interlocutory injunction restraining the Defendant/Respondent whether by itself, its agent, its privies or its assigns from presenting, deliberating, considering and/or ratifying the resolution contained in the agenda of the Defendant/Respondent’s 48th Annual General Meeting to wit; “To ratify the following resolutions: That the Memorandum of Understanding between the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and Babcock University, Ilishan, Ogun State, Nigeria, granting five-year accounting graduates of the university exemption from all but the final examination, PE II of the Institute, be and is hereby revoked with immediate effect from the date of passing this resolution.

“That all other Memoranda of Understanding (excluding the MoU with NOUN) with any other tertiary institution such as Benson Idahosa University which alters or has the capacity of altering the Institution’s qualification process be and is hereby revoked with immediate effect from the date of passing this resolution.”

Intent on knowing the truth, the institute set up a committee which findings said; “Consequently, we conducted a search and our findings are as follow: The suit in question was filed by Prof. Enyi, Prof. Ishola Akintoye and seven others.
The suit was delivered and assessment for claims being sought was paid on May 28, 2013. The writ of summons was sealed by the Registrar on 30th May, 2013.
As at June 11, due to absence of evidence of service of court paper on ICAN, the file was still at the Lagos Division Registrar’s Office.  This implies that the file has not moved to the administrative judge’s office for it to be assigned to a court.
Please find below major points to note as an outcome of the meeting:

“There was/is no injunction before the AGM. There was a motion on notice of interlocutory injunction. It was a mistake to have mentioned that there was an Injunction at the AGM instead of motion on notice of interlocutory injunction.

Council does not have intention of stepping down the motion. Council always works in the best interest of the Institute; however, no man is perfect. The office of the president is open to the forum representatives on any matters that may affect the well-being of ICAN members and the development of the institute at large. The representatives of the forum should come up with a position paper on the MoU for Council consideration on June 27, 2013 and thereafter the outcome would be made known to all members. The forum would be adequately carried along in this project. ICAN is right to enter into any MoU if it is considered proper; however, members would be carried along in any future engagements.

“While we are making efforts to summarise the salient information from the court documents for your information, the comments of members shall be appreciated.”

Piqued by this discovery, one of the members wrote; “For me, I was very sure there was no injunction from day one. It is unfortunate that our IPP could go that far to have deliberately misinformed the house that 31st day of May, 2013. I think what we need to do is to take the following actions: Obtain an injunction stopping the implementation of the obnoxious MoU until an EGM is held by ICAN; The injunction to also direct ICAN to conduct an Extra Ordinary General Meeting (EGM) within the next three months to discuss and take decision on the MoU. I wish to thank those that have made the sacrifice to expose this wrong doing against our dear Institute.”
Another aggrieved member said; “You will recall that the motion on MoU with Babcock was validly brought to the ICAN AGM as a motion requiring members’ decision. The discussion and possible decision was suspended based on the information provided through an unsigned document released by the ICAN Secretariat. This same information was confirmed by the immediate past president of our great Institute – ICAN in the course of the AGM when the immediate past president mentioned that there was an ‘injunction’ stopping the motion from being discussed. We had made a formal request to have a copy of the said court documents from the Secretariat and we were informed that this will not be available to us.

“If the injunction is delivered on the day of AGM, ICAN owes her members explanations and her next line of action and posting of same injunction on the web site within 24 hours of the conclusion of the AGM. If ICAN already has a copy of the injunction, there is a compulsion to make copies available on the web site and to the members at the AGM. Explanations and next line of action are also required. It will equally be right and proper for ICAN Management and Council to make available, all the MoUs signed with any local or international institution on or before the AGM. Except for examination purposes, confidentiality, classified information and secrecy must give way to openness and transparency. This is the right way to defend our charter. This is the minimum expected of a proactive organisation.”

A member of the Institute alarmed by lack of transparency in the handling of the matter said; “I don’t believe that story an inch. You can’t even tell that to my 10-year- old daughter, let alone professional accountants. Rather, I believe this is probably part of a grand design to pull wool over the eyes of the entire membership of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and I tell you my reason for saying so. The immediate past President was part of ICAN Presidency when the MoU was signed in May 2010. So he is probably one of the architects and supporters of the MoU. He also was unconvincingly defending the MoU at every opportunity at ICAN events during his presidency and that Professor Enyi was in Ghana (remember his email on this forum on 18 May 2013 @19:57 about that five-day Ghana conference) few weeks back before the AGM probably (I am giving room for a likely event Mr. Enyi paid for himself to attend the said conference but I doubt it) as part of the entourage of the ICAN Presidency when the Immediate Past President (IPP) was ICAN President. You could call that coincidence if you like but no one is fooled.

“Professor Enyi, in one of his emails to the Elders Forum, confirmed to the elders on 28 May 2013 @16:51 that there was an injunction. He wrote the word “Injunction” in the said email. Professor Akintoye wrote in his reply to one of Elder Yemi Lawal’s emails suggesting that his only involvement in the MoU was as an ICAN Accrediting agent at Babcock but it later transpired that Prof. Akintoye was a far more interested party than a mere accrediting agent for ICAN regarding the MoU going by the court papers we now have which lists his name as one of the claimants. We knew that anyway but we just want them to dig themselves deeper into judicial hole, and they have obliged us. Going by the aforementioned facts, I therefore find it extremely difficult if not entirely impossible to believe that a person of intelligence and a professional like IPP was actually misled in this MoU issue. It will be a very tall order for me to convince my 10-year-old daughter of that impression let alone my fellow colleagues. Let no one be fooled.

“The issue of whether he was misled or not by legal counsel is his problem, not ours and he alone and the Council should deal with that. I am sorry if I am harsh but I have to be honest in my views. Tell another story please! One needs more lies to justify a lie and it can only create more avoidable complications.”

Another simply wrote and said; “Where were some council members when a N500,000 web site turned into a N5 million web site contract bonanza that was awarded without due process? There were allegations; even the contractor was also advanced N3 million overnight and an agreement signed even before the then IT Committee was informed about it. I know what happened to me for speaking up against it at the then IT Committee meetings. We had outcries, newspaper reports etc. but no action from council until today, and we still demand for an investigation into the allegations in respect of that web site. What did council do to deal with such weighty allegations on that issue? Nothing! That definitely calls into question the integrity of some council members. I have so many other issues that may call into question the integrity of some council members.

“Alternatively, are you not aware that some very high-ranking members of the ICAN Secretariat failed the Integrity tests twice and they are retained by council? You know that if they failed it once, they are supposed to be relieved of their position, but they are still there because of the actions or inaction of some members of council who in my opinion, lack integrity. Please let me stop here before I start disclosures that will rock the institute more than what we have now.”

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