Court fights over a record level of fund abuse or embezzlement by individuals of various organizations of the Nigerian community in Houston are not strange. The judicial district courts know them by codes and judges know them by names or faces, as they shuttle several floors of the civil court building on 201 Caroline Street in Houston for court appearances.
In furtherance of that tradition, officials and members of the ANNID Houston, Inc. will be heading to court August 16, at 10:30 a.m. in the 61st Judicial District Court on the Caroline. This event is for an oral hearing on a non-traditional motion regarding an initial petition the group had filed against some of their members over “wrongfully, and without organizational purpose or authority” withdrawal from group’s bank Account. (See Plaintiff’s Original Petition –ANNID Houston, Inc. V. Hyacinth Enyinnia, et al.).
So why is this motion nontraditional? These defendants are not defending the allegations “that they illegally” withdrew money, but instead, they are investing money in asking the court to dismiss the case because “a former Secretary who hired Attorney Meadows (Plaintiffs’ attorney) did not have authority to do so. (See DEFENDANTS’ MOTION TO SHOW AUTHORITY).
In the initial petition, ANNID had complained that some of their “former officers and members” named in the lawsuit had “wrongfully and illegally withdrew funds” from the organizations banking account and have equally failed to render account. One of the defendants at the time in October 2015 withdrew $44,000.00 from the group’s IBC bank account; one other defendant took away the sum of $104.10, while another defendant wrote a check for himself for $4,770.00 the same month.
Furthermore, we must understand that dragging fraud suspects to the civil courts is immaterial and only allows culprits the escape windows. For a nonprofit organization with the mission to provide aid to the less privileged, any proven unauthorized withdrawal of fund is felonious and must not be subjected to a pricey debt-collection courtroom fiasco.
The history and activities of ANNID as a political group is another complicated issue, but the ANNID referenced in this article is a nonprofit corporation – comprising of Nigerians which according to the petition, “aids and supports other Nigerian organizations and Nigerian natives immigrating to the United States.”
The truth is that there is more to ANNID than the current lawsuit. Perhaps, if ANNID had taken time to explain their source of income and how the feuding fund was generated, it would have been easier to analyze why their bank account was subjected to such plunder. But the purpose of this article is not about the structure of ANNID, neither is it about the timeline that trailed its current doom. This piece simply centers on the role of the legal system in sustaining effective ethical standards in our local communities.
In the past ten years, for instance, most Nigeria organizations have spent tens of thousands of dollars in litigation over either fraudulent members or rivalry factions who sized up their treasuries. For example, in ANASCO case (ANAMBRA STATE COMMUNITY IN HOUSTON, Appellants V. ANAMBRA STATE COMMUNITY, HOUSTON, Appellee), the two feuding groups fought for more than four years, particularly at an issue involving the right to $9,150, transferred from one bank account to another in the midst of a leadership crisis. By the time this case went to the Court of Appeals for the First District of Texas, more than a hundred thousand Dollars have been spent by both sides on legal fees, court filings, and service time.
Ethics are excellent values and must be protected by the system. It must not be on trial, rather, those who fall short of those values must be held accountable. In a society where the abuse of fiduciary obligations is a culture, the court has a role – the moral responsibility to either protect or discourage a culture of the derail in ethical standards. They could protect this society by subverting unintelligible legal technicalities that protect an organizational culture of fraud and arrogance. Or, on the contrary, they could hang on to the relevant provisions of law to technically empower the amoral actions of unscrupulous community leaders and individuals.
Furthermore, we must understand that dragging fraud suspects to the civil courts is immaterial and only allows culprits the escape windows. For a nonprofit organization with the mission to provide aid to the less privileged, any proven unauthorized withdrawal of fund is felonious and must not be subjected to a pricey debt-collection courtroom fiasco. Thieves are thieves and must face the law as thieves.
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