Key members of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation Americas (NIDOA) have dissociated the group from the letter some diaspora Nigerians in America sent to President Muhammadu Buhari last month.
Dated June 6, 2021, the letter, signed by Eromonsele Idahosa, Yinka Tella, Moses Timta and three others, called the President’s attention to “separatist agitations in various parts of the country where tensions have boiled over partly because of persistent calls for reconfiguration of our nation”.
The 23-paragraph letter delved into issues of national security and restructuring, citing the prevailing perception that “terrorists of Fulani stock are being treated with kid-gloves while suspected Indigenous Peoples of Biafra and Eastern Security Network members are being eliminated extra-judicially” in aerial and ground bombardment of some South-Eastern Nigerian communities by security forces.
The letter also touched on the “need for Nigeria to adopt a real Federal constitution before the 2023 elections with the 1963 Constitution and the report of the 2014 Constitutional Conference as basis”.
But in a telephone call to PREMIUM TIMES’ America office in Washington DC, Obed Monago of NIDO USA Ohio chapter and Michael Essien of NIDO USA Minnesota chapter, who are also chairperson and legal adviser of NIDO Americas BoT respectively, dismissed the letter’s authors as “impersonators”.
“They are impersonators, they are impersonating me and that is totally unacceptable”, Mr Monago said. He based his claim on the authors’ use of the name ‘NIDO Americas’, maintaining that the name is only applied to the continental not country-based governing body of the organization.
The introductory paragraph of the letter identified the authors as ‘Nigerians in Diaspora Organization, Americas (NIDOA), USA’.
NIDO Americas is one of five continental zones that make up NIDO Worldwide, the others are NIDO Europe, NIDO Asia, NIDO Oceania and NIDO Africa. Each continental zone comprises country-based chapters governed by a board of directors (BoD).
Thus, NIDO Americas is the continental home of NIDO Americas USA, NIDO Americas Canada, NIDO Americas Belize, etc. In written communications, NIDO Americas is often shortened to NIDOA followed by the country chapter’s name (for example, NIDOA, USA) just as NIDO Europe is similarly contracted to NIDOE before the country chapter (for example, NIDOE Italy).
Mr Monago says as much in the phone call. He explained that “NIDO Americas constitute Brazil, United States of America, Canada, Belize and other countries in both continents of the Americas. That is what NIDO Americas is and I am the chairman Board of Trustees of NIDO Americas”.
He however insists that any communication referencing NIDO Americas is construed to be a reference to NIDO Americas BoT, “more so when they are communicating with the presidency,” he added.
“If you read what Premium Times wrote, they said NIDOA, NIDOA means NIDO Americas. They are impersonating me”.
Mr Monago explained that “under NIDO bylaw, only the BoT can communicate with Nigerian officials outside of the United States”.
“The bylaw says the group in Canada can do everything within Canada, the ones in Brazil can do everything within Brazil. When it comes to engaging Nigerian officials, so that NIDO Inc. is coordinated, it is done through NIDO Americas,” he said, emphasizing that in the NIDO context, Americas refers to the two continents of North America and South America.
“Remember I’m putting s, which means the two continents,” he said, emphasising that the BoT is the only body that can speak on behalf of the collective NIDO members in North America and South America.
Messrs Monago and Essien also claim that the letter’s authors infringed on trademarks registered by the BoT for NIDO Americas.
“We have four legitimate federal government of the US-approved and recognized trademarks”, Mr Essien said adding that “somebody else should not say anything under that name that may be imputed back to us”.
The trademark are four logos registered by the United States Trademark and Patent office in 2015.
“There are several instances that we have told any and everybody that is tempted to use our name for their own personal interest that they cannot, and this is one of those times”, Essien said adding “you can report rightly that the legal adviser and the chairman of the Board of Trustees have reached out to you to say that these guys are impersonators”, he concluded.
In another phone conversation with our Washington office,Moses Timta, one of the signatories to the diaspora letter, dismissed Messrs Monago and Essien’s claim of impersonation.
“If they have any complaint they should take us to court,” he said.
Mr Timta who, like Mr Monago, is a member of the Ohio NIDO district said all six signatories to the letter are executives of NIDO Americas USA Board of Directors (BoD). Mr Timta serves as the Secretary-General of the Board.
He traces the disagreement over the letter to what he describes as NIDO Americas Board of Trustees’ interference in the day-to-day affairs of NIDO Americas USA.
“NIDO Americas, of which Monago claims to be the Board of Trustee chair, is supposed to oversee USA, Brazil, Canada and other North American countries, all together, in an advisory capacity,” Mr Timta explained, adding that “each member country is supposed to have its own independent national board.”
Mr Timta said notwithstanding the clear provision of NIDO Americas bylaw on member countries’ BoD, the Board of Trustees (BoT) is hindering USA members from having and operating their own independent Board because most of the BoT members reside in the United States.
He gave an example of NIDO Americas USA’s effort to register for the 501(c)3 status which is a legal requirement for nonprofit organisations in the USA.
“To register for 501(c)3 status which organizations need in order to have a board, to hold elections and incorporate in our country of residence and, to function like other NIDO America countries, these BoT members insisted that we cannot do that because they, the Board of Trustees, which serves other countries as well, have already applied for a 501(c)3 in the United States,” Mr Timta explained.
“This is an illegality since the BoT is supposed to function in an advisory not executive role,” he said.
On the subject of the letter to President Buhari, Mr Timta said NIDO Americas USA BoD does not need anybody’s permission to write to the President “so long as we all hold the green passport.”
“We get a lot of calls from our members here in the US and from relatives when we go home,” he explained, “we were told that some ethnic nationalities in Nigeria were trying to approach the US government to sanction the Buhari administration for human rights violation.”
“Some of our members accused us of indifference, of keeping quiet because we are on the side of the government,” Mr Timta said. “We learnt that they were planning a demonstration in Washington DC on the commemoration of June 12 Democracy day.
“We sent that letter in response to the call from our members. And you can see that we did extensive research because issues mentioned in the letter reach back to the Abacha era and the Third Republic.
“If anything we stated there is not correct or not right, then we can be held accountable for fallacy. But as to why we did that, we are all Nigerians, we did that as representatives of our community here in the US.”
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