The Senate on Thursday turned back the Comptroller General (CG) of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (retd) for failure to wear the Customs uniform as directed by lawmakers. Appearing in mufti.
The Senate has asked him to reappear before it next week Wednesday in uniform.
The Customs CG Retired Colonel Hameed Ali defied the Senate and appeared before lawmakers attired in a white caftan and cap, contrary to the directive of the Senate that he appears in Customs uniform.
But Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu who is presiding over plenary asked the Customs CG why he did not appear in uniform to which he responded that there is no law that compels him to wear a 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.
The senate on Wednesday s resolved to issue a warrant of arrest to compel Hameed Ali, to appear before it on Thursday in customs uniform.
This is in spite of another letter written by the Customs CG to the Senate President Bukola Saraki at a meeting which held on Tuesday evening explaining that the retrospective policy on import duties on vehicles has been put on hold and that he is unable to appear before the Senate on Wednesday because he is bereaved.
The Customs CG also stated in the letter that he is seeking legal advice on the issue wearing uniform as directed by the Senate.He also advised the Senate to also avail itself of the legal basis on its decision to compel him to wear the uniform.
The letter has obviously angered lawmakers who are accusing the Customs CG of disrespecting the Senate. A federal lawmaker Senator George Sekibo thus asked the Senate to use section 89 to compel the customs CG to appear on tomorrow Thursday.
Section 89 refers to issuing an arrest warrant to compel an individual to appear before the Senate.
Some senators have 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.
The Deputy Leader of the Senate, Bala N’Allah 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.
He further expressed his disappointment with the CG, who in a response to the invitation letter, said that the National Assembly should not be concerned about whether he wears the uniform, once he performs his 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”.
On Hameed Ali’s excuse that he was seeking legal advice on the insistence of the senate that he should wear uniform, the deputy leader of the senate said the CG ought to have sought legal advice before deciding not to wear a 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.