ADEKUNLE ADESUJI, ABUJA
It was a rude shock to Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Hameed Ali, as the Senate on Thursday walked him out of chamber over his refusal to appear before them in uniform.The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the plenary session hit the nail on the head immediately the Customs boss entered the Red Chamber in white caftan.
Ekweremadu asked Customs CG while he failed to dress in Customs uniform.
But, the Customs boss in his response said there is no place in the law that compels him to wear uniform while performing his duty as Customs boss.
Ali had failed to honour two previous invitations from the Senate over “tension” generated by his planned policy on import duties on cars.
Senate, however, threatened to evoke its powers in Section 88 and 89 of the Constitution to compel him to appear.
Speaking before he was sent out, Ali told lawmakers that he merely complied with the content of the last letter dated 15th March, 2017 received from the Senate; arguing that the letter did not ask him to come in uniform.
He said his decision not to wear uniform does not violate any law and that there is no law compelling him to wear uniform.
He was quickly reminded that the letter he was relying on was in furtherance to others sent to him.
The lawmakers gave him run-down of how they’ve entertained other people in their uniform and that his own won’t be an exception.
They insisted, citing sections of Customs and Excise Act and other extant laws in the country that as long as he (Ali) wants to continue to exercise the power of Comptroller-General which is a rank in the Customs Service, he must wear the uniform.
The option available would be to have his designation changed to Sole Administrator.
Senator Magnus Abe from Rivers South, advised the Customs boss to wear the uniform and avoid the “ego tripping” between him and the Senate.
He told him that rather than consult with his lawyers, he would do much better if he hired a Public Relations expert to help him sell his brand.
Senator George Sekibo and many others were not cut out with having such entreaties with the Customs boss.
They wanted the law strictly applied and based on a motion from Sekibo, Senate politely asked the Customs Comptroller- General to leave and return next week Wednesday to address them well kitted in Customs.
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