Senate Demands Urgent Composition Of Customs Board, Says Hammed Ali, Customs’ C.G. Must Wear Uniform

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Comptroller-General, Nigerian Customs Service

By Nuel Suji – The Senate has directed the immediate composition of the board of the Nigerian Customs Services, saying the Comptroller General, Hammed Ali (rtd.) cannot continue to unilaterally carry out the functions of appointment and promotion of Custom officers.

The Senate, through its Committee on Customs and Excise Duties, Thursday questioned Mr. Ali over the non-composition of custom board since 2015 when it was dissolved.

Comptroller-General, Nigerian Customs Services

According to the Committee Chairman, Senator Hope Uzodinma, it was wrong and in fact illegality for the custom CG alone to be promoting and firing officer without the board in place, ordering immediate constitution of the board.

“You claim that the Minister of Finance is the one delaying the composition of the board, this committee is writing a letter straight away to the Minister, Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Attorney General of Federation to put the board in place without any further delay,” he said.

The Comptroller -General had earlier came under fire over his refusal to wear custom uniform since 2015 when he was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Former Comptroller‎- Generals of Custom who were in attendant also criticized Mr. Ali, saying the incumbent CG of Customs is supposed to be addressed as sole administrator and not Comptroller General since he is not ready to wear uniform depicting the office and rank of a CG.

The development came during an interactive session with the Senate Committee on Custom and Excise Duties with the Custom management, Ministry of Finance and Central Bank of Nigeria over impending amendment bill.

At session, a member of the Committee, Senator Obinna Ogba challenged Mr. Ali for wearing mufti dress close to two years after his appointment, describing it as highly demoralising for the officers and men Nigerian Customs.

“Mr. CG, we want this committee to know the reason why you are still in mufti close to two years after your appointment as the Comptroller General of Nigeria custom service,” Sen. Ogba fired.

Mr. Ali in his response explained that being a former military officer, tradition permit him not to wear any other uniform again.

A response that infuriated another member of the Committee, Senator Dino Melaye who reminded Custom CG that a retired General of the Nigerian Army in person of Halidu Hananiya wore Federal Road Safety’s Uniform when appointed as Corp Marshall of that agency.

But, Mr. Ali countered again, arguing that Hananiya made a mistake with his action then.

His reaction however angered Senator Ogba who angrily walked out of the session saying “this how you people keep deceiving Nigerians on wrong action and still defending it.

After the session, the chairman jokingly told the Custom CG to go ahead to sow his uniform.

“We are releasing you to go and sow your uniform while we continue with officials of Ministry of Finance and Central Bank,” Sen. Uzodinma told the Custom CG.

In a separate session, former comptroller Generals of Custom led by Mohammed Bello‎ supported the Senate committee position for querying the incumbent CG over his continuous refusal to wear custom uniform.

According to him, the incumbent CG supposed to have been designated as Sole administrator and not CG of custom since he was not ready to wear the custom uniform.

Former Comptroller Generals of Custom who attended the interactive session include: Buba Jacob who is now the traditional ruler, Gwon Gwon Jos, Bernard-Shaw Nwadialo, A. Mustapha.

The former CGs however defended the Custom Service position on the implementation of the new destination inspection policy as against pre-shipment inspection policy which the committee said remains the existing Act.

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