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Exclusive: Customs CG risks walkout if he appears before Senate on mufti, Wednesday

A Senator of the Federal Republic (name with held), Sunday confided on Business Hilights in a telephone interview that the Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) may risk not only walkout but vote of no confidence on his activities as the helmsman of Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) if he put paid to his threats and appears before the red chamber on any other attire other than official uniform.

The highly infuriated lawmaker added further that “If that happens, we will compel the presidency to remove him from office without delay because we have heard enough on this matter since last Friday”.

The Senator went ahead 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.

The Senate has mandated the Comptroller-General of Customs to appear in plenary in appropriate uniform on March 15, unfailingly to address the issue of Customs Tax Duties on vehicles.

This followed a Point of Order raised by Sen. Dino Melaye that the Customs dares Senate, says no going back on implementation of duties on old vehicles after the Senate had recently directed the Customs to stop the plan to punish anyone who failed to pay duties on vehicles within a month of bringing them into the country.

But speaking on live television (TVC) and monitored by our correspondent on Friday, Col. Ali stated that the Customs should rather focus on the performance of the Customs under him rather than mundane issues like uniform wearing.

Ali, the former Military Administrator of Kaduna State said “I will appear before the Senate because I have utmost respect for the nation’s legislature. But as regards to uniform wearing or not, the answer is no, because I was not appointed Comptroller General to wear uniforms”.

Continuing, angered Ali argued that “Uniform wearing should not be the parameter for measuring performances. I am sorry to say this, but for those who have been given responsibility to conduct oversight functions on the Customs, what we expect from them is to look at what we are doing, and let us know if we are on the right track or not”.

“We expect them to proffer suggestions for us on how to do our jobs better, and not issues like wearing uniform or not.

“On issues like uniform wearing; does uniform do the work or the person behind the uniform? Am I doing my job or not? I think that are the questions that should bother the Senate more, rather than mundane issues like uniform wearing.”

Since the explosive TV interview, the Senate had not made any form of official reply, meaning that Wednesday may turn out to be something that may not be easily imagined at the red Chambers.