The regular Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Grenada Co-operative Nutmeg Association (GCNA) ended prematurely last week Thursday as a result of an unprecedented court action.
Two locals with interest in the industry – Dr. Francis Antoine and Roland Courtney – secured the services of GRENLAW Chambers, headed by attorney-at-law, Anselm Clouden to file an injunction to put a halt to the election of officers at the AGM to serve on the Board of Directors.
The two registered GCNA members are not happy with the direction that things are going within the association and want a judicial review of the operations of the organisation.
The Nutmeg Industry Act, section 27, stipulates that for every one hundred registered members of GCNA, one delegate has to be selected to attend the AGM.
The delegates are selected from area meetings, which are held around the country.
The persons who are selected to attend the AGM are the ones who are allowed to vote to select the board members.
Female attorney-at-law, Sandina Date of GRENLAW Chambers told reporters at a press conference that currently there are 3,500 registered members with GCNA, which should result in only 35 “legitimate” delegates.
However, Date said over the years there have been grave discrepancies in the number of registered members and the number of delegates voting at the AGM’s of the association.
The May 29 AGM that was halted by an injunction had 144 delegates eligible for voting, 109 more as provided for under the GCNA governing ordinance.
According to Date, her clients – Dr Antoine and Courtney – are seeking an explanation as to where these other 109 delegates emerged to be included to cast ballots.
“In our application for judicial review we’re asking that the court mandates that the Board now compile the list (2013/2014). They must revise that list of members and from that list of members host the area meetings and when they host the area meetings that is when the delegates will be elected that will be eligible to vote at annual meetings …”, she said.
“… We need to know that the persons who are voting are registered members and as it stands there really should only be 35 delegates but the voting usually have 144. We’re hoping that these (court) proceedings will provide a response as to where the additional 109 came from,” she added.
THE NEW TODAY obtained a copy of the affidavit of Courtney in support of the application for an injunction to abort the AGM.
The applicant said in the document that he had brought the issue to the attention of the GCNA Board on a number of occasions but his complaints were not addressed.
“I recall that the issue of the delegates and the eligibility to vote being raised at several meetings I have attended in the past. In particular, I remember my attendance of an area meeting in Victoria, Saint Mark where a member of the GCNA and fellow nutmeg farmer Mr. Gordon Bhola expressed grave concern on the issue of the registry of members and delegate selection.
“… In April of 2014, I wrote to the Manager of the GCNA and copied said letter to the Chairman of the Board of Directors, raising three areas of concern regarding the GCNA’s non-compliance with the pertinent sections of the Act. In particular, the manner of the selection of delegates and the voting eligibility at Annual General Meetings, I received no acknowledgement of the letter and to the best of my information and belief no remedial steps were taken to ensure compliance”.
According to Date, the judicial review being sought is not only for her clients but also for all nutmeg farmers registered with GCNA.
“The GCNA is the only body that regulates the nutmeg industry here in Grenada and the growers deserve to have someone who is also a member. They deserve to have someone who are nutmeg growers themselves and representing their interest and without that, we’re not sure what is going on with the industry and the interest of the growers,” she explained.
A hearing of the injunction is scheduled for June 10 before female high court judge, Madam Justice Margaret Mohammed in which GCNA would be given an opportunity to put forward their side of the story.
Date said the matter could end on that day but if the association is adamant that what it is doing is the right thing, the case could be prolonged.