Business Hilights
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We said it on Monday that Ali risks walk out if on Mufti at Senate, it happened Thursday

The Senate on Thursday put paid to its threat and on a loud voice vote, turned back the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) for appearing before the senate on mufti.

WE published on Monday under Industry Category Vis: “Exclusive: Customs CG risks walkout if he appears before Senate on mufti, Wednesday”.

Business Hilights had weekend, in an exclusive interview with one of the leading vociferous Senators who pleaded anonymity published on Monday quoting the lawmaker as saying “Ali risks walkout and possible removal from the post of Customs CG if he appears Wednesday on mufti”.

The Senator relied on the good examples of former heads of other paramilitary bodies including FRSC and Civil Defence who upon not rising from  the ranks but on appointment used to wear matching uniforms to argue that Ali must appear on uniform in conformity with his rank as the CG.

The lawmaker went further during the weekend telephone interview to cite examples of other appointees into the paramilitary services who had been putting on the agency’s uniform and also delivering their duties without fear or favour and queried why CG of Customs will take Senators to ransom.

“Take your mind back to the time Mr. Osita Chidoka was the head of Federal Roads Safety Commission, did he use to put on uniform?, Yes is the answer. What of the head of Nigerian Civil Defence, they did not rise from the ranks, but they comply with their official uniforms so Ali’s case will not be different unless he is not ready to serve.

“This is an issue of allegiance to service and it demands that all the paraphernalia of that office must be adhered to including being on uniform.

However, Thursday, vide a thunderous voice vote, the Senate presided over by the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, directed Hameed Ali to return to the senate on Wednesday, March 22 in proper uniform designated for the office of Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service.

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

Aggrieved Deputy Leader of the Senate, Bala N’Allah had said letters were sent to the CG to appear before the senate to give explanations on the proposed duty payment on vehicles imported into Nigeria and further expressed sadness with the way and manner of CG’s response.

According to him, the CG acts amount to a slap on the Senate, as an institution of the Federal republic.

Relying on the provisions of Section 10 of the Customs Act, among other sections, Senator N’Allah 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’.

Continuing, he noted averred that “The Act further states that the power to prosecute is that of executive and certain officers including CG has that power”.

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

However, the rising tempo of annoyance was called to order by Sen. Barau Jibrin(APC-Kano) who said there was no need to subject the disobedience of the C-G to a long discussion, rather house should vote to insist that he goes back and “comply by wearing uniform before appearing here.’’

But the anger of the lawmakers was further jerked up when embattled Ali toned in that the senate letter dated March, 15 did not stipulate he wears a uniform before appearing. He further said he was already seeking a legal interpretation to the wearing of a uniform.

In his mild ruling, Ekweremadu, said the senate was of the view that he returned to the senate in the proper uniform of CG of Customs come next week Wednesday and it was adopted.