Senate turns back Customs C-G, orders him to re-appear in uniform

Abuja, March 16, 2017(TNE): The Senate on Thursday turned back the Comptroller General of Customs, retired Col. Hameed Ali for appearing in mufti instead of the uniform.

Senators by  a voice vote directed  him to return to the senate on Wednesday, March 22, in proper uniform designated for the office  of Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service.

Shortly before the resolution, some senators expressed concern over  Ali’s defiance of the  National Assembly by appearing in mufti in spite of a letter sent to him, specifying that he should appear in uniform.

The Deputy Leader of the Senate, Bala N’Allah said letters were sent to the C-G to appear before the senate to give explanations on  the proposed  duty payment on vehicles imported into Nigeria.

He further expressed his disappointment with the C-G, who in a response to the invitation letter,  said that the National Assembly should not be concerned about his appearance, as long as he performs is duties.

N’Allah said the response was a slap on the Senate, as an institution.

N’Allah  who quoted Section 10 of the Customs Act, among other sections, said the section was clear about  punishment for unlawful behaviour of any officer, “including any person who assumes the name, designation or character of an officer.

“The Act further states that  the power to prosecute is that of executive and  certain officers including the C-G

“This implies that your position is statutory, meaning you must conform to the Act.

“Besides, wearing uniform is anchored in the Constitution.

On the C-G’s excuse that he was seeking  legal advice on  the insistence of the senate, the deputy leader of the senate said the C-G ought to have sought  legal advice before deciding not to wear uniform.

He said the senate, as the highest law making institution, would not allow anybody to ridicule it, even though it remains supportive of  President Muhammadu Buhari’s  good intentions for the country.

Sen. Barau Jibrin(APC-Kano) said there was no need to subject the disobedience of the C-G to a long

Sen. Solomon Adeola(APC-Ogun)  said it was only proper for  the C-G  to comply, adding that  it was a matter of concern that he was not proud in appearing in Customs uniform.

” All other persons that followed him here are fully dressed in the Customs uniform.

“With what is happening, anybody  can wear anything and  present himself or herself as the Comptroller General. So, I don’t know who is standing here before us.

His car and aircraft carry the official logo of Customs but he wears mufti.

Sen. Ali Wakili  said he had met with the C-G before now.

He suggested that since he was not ready to wear uniform, his title should be changed to “Sole Administrator.”

He however appealed  to the senate to allow him and other lawmakers to interface with Ali on the matter.

However, the Customs boss said the letter from the senate, dated March, 15 did not stipulate him to wear a  uniform before appearing.

The Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the plenary, said it was proper for the C-G to wear uniform as a form of motivation for other officers.

He also explained to him, that although the letter dated March 5 did not indicate the wearing of uniform, the condition  was included in previous letters.

“Section 2 of the Customs Act defines the officer to include the C-G.

” I believe too that there  are certain things officers take for granted which is uniform wearing. They should learn from you.

” With your refusal to wear uniform, they can also  refuse to wear uniform, saying  there is no law that compels them to wear such.

” There is no better  teacher than living by example.

He said the senate was of the view that he returned to the senate in the  proper uniform of the C-G of Customs. (TNE)

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