The Head of Service of the Federation Staff Cooperative Society Ltd has been engulfed in crisis over who controls the remaining N30m left in the accounts as well as the 5.2 hectares of land located at Apo mechanic village in Abuja.
The 5.2 hectares of land was acquired by the cooperative with over N4.250bn in 2015 during the first tenure of Mr. John Chargu as president, who was in office between February 2017 and February 2019.
The cooperative has since been divided between one faction loyal to the former president Mr. John Chargu and the other loyal to Mr. Katsina Terfa who is their new president.
The cooperative, with over 800 registered civil servants in its pool before the crisis broke out in 2019, now has less than 300 members who remit monthly contributions/deductions from their salaries to the cooperative as at when due.
The Chargu faction had accused the management of the Head of Service of the Federation of pitching tents with the candidacy of Mr. Katsina Terfa, claiming that he was the legally elected president of the cooperative during the April 25, 2019 and has similarly ordered the office to be taken over by the group to the amazement of John Chargu-led faction.
It was gathered that Mr. Chargu emerged as the president of the cooperative during the election conducted on April 25, 2019 while another election supported by the management of the HOS brought in Mr. Katsina Terfa as the authentic president of the cooperative.
Speaking in Abuja on the crisis, Mr. John Chargu expressed disappointment that the management of the Head of Service has taken sides though the constitution of the cooperative does not allow such.
“Our supervisory body is the Director of Cooperative of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Administration because we registered the society with them, all cases in the cooperatives are equally settled by the FCTA.
“Also, the Abuja Cooperative Federation (ACF) is always there to supervise our elections but today, they are claiming that all Cooperatives in Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) must subject themselves to the Human Resources Department in the MDAs which totally violates our constitutions,” Chargu said.
He said that Mr. Terfa is being supported by the office of the Permanent Secretary, Common Services Office (CSO) in the office of the HOS as well as the HOS Deputy Director, Appointment and Career Progression, Mrs. Foluke Oni.
He accused Mr. Terfa of formenting trouble in the cooperative because of his greed and selfish interest.
He said “He (Terfa) is the trouble maker; he fell out with me because he wanted me to make him Land Committee Chairman so he would have free access to sell lands at will before he retires from Service. In the past, we always had five various committees and each time they sit, we pay each N5,000 although these are the rules in our bye-laws but for the fact that we don’t have enough money, I declined when majority of members opposed the move.
“It may surprise you that I was given a query on this matter by the HOS Deputy Director, Appointment and Career Progression, Mrs. Foluke Oni, for not accepting to handover the leadership of the cooperative to Mr. Terfa and after answering the query, I was summoned by the Senior Staff Committee as well. I was detained with three other officers for a week.”
Our correspondent visited the office of Mrs Foluke Oni three different times to confirm the development without success.
She however said in a phone conversation that she could only speak on the matter if the request for her comment was made official using the Freedom of Information Act.
However, in a telephone interview, Mr. Katsina Terfa said that the claims of a second term tenure by Mr. John Chargu was not only fraudulent but null and void as pronounced by the Chief Registrar, Director of Cooperative even as the decision was conveyed to him by the Permanent Secretary, CSO of the HOS, Mr. Felix Danusa.
Terfa said, “The HOS management asked Mr. Chargu to vacate office and hand over peacefully to me on December 14, 2020 but he refused. The management then asked the police to forcefully open the office, the directive was carried out before I eventually gained access to the Cooperative secretariat.”
He said that he was duly elected on August 23, 2019 and cannot afford to fail the civil servants who gave him the mandate.
He said, “The only way forward is that Mr. John Chargu must come forward and hand over the properties of the cooperative to me, this is the only way the issues can be amicably resolved.”
When contacted, the Director Press and Public Relations, Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF), Mr. Abdulganiyu Aminu, said he did not have the details of what our reporter was seeking enquiries on.
Chargu bad loser – official
However, another official who pleaded not to be named as he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said that Mr. John Chargu was a bad loser, who wanted to perpetrate himself in office even when the overwhelming majority of cooperative members don’t want him as their president.
According to the official, in order to ‘cheat the system’ Mr. Chargu brought in illegal regulators to conduct his election and when this was detected, the other group went to the appropriate quarters with the majority of members who now conducted an election that brought in Mr. Katsina Terfa.
“When he (Chargu) was told to hand over, he refused and went to court. He later withdrew the court case and there was a petition from retired members of the cooperative who alleged corruption. He refused to appear at the panel set up to look into the matter.
“Even when the cooperative was to be audited, he still refused, saying he will do the auditing himself. So, there was no option than to take appropriate measures to make the office available to the elected officials of the cooperative,” the official said.