For refusing to wear official custom uniforms, the Senate Committee on Customs on Thursday noted that the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd) ought to have been made a sole administrator rather than being a CG.
The upper chamber explained that Customs Act was succinct on official uniforms of the management and staff of Customs and Excise duties under a paramilitary status, noting that since the CG was not ready to wear uniform since 2015 when he was appointed, he should be a sole administrator.
“The Comptroller-Generals of Customs the incumbent CG, supposed to have been designated as Sole Administrator and not the Comptroller-General of Customs since he is not ready to wear uniform depicting the office and rank of that position”, the Committee asserted.
The statement which was made at the interactive session with Senate Committee on Custom and Excise Duties, Ministry of Finance and Central Bank of Nigeria also noted that operations of those agencies would be Amended.
A member of the Committee, Senator Obinna Ogba (PDP Ebonyi Central), believed that CG’s outfit would demoralize the officers and men of the agency.
“Mr. CG, this committee will like 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”, he fired.
Responding, Col. Ali said being a former military officer tradition and statute did not permit him to wear any other uniform again.
His response infuriated another member of the Committee, Senator Dino Melaye (APC Kogi West) who reminded him, the 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 the agency.
Ali responded that Hananiya made a mistake, a situation that made Senator Ogba who angrily walked out of the session saying ” this is how you people keep deceiving Nigerians on wrong action and still defending it”.
Ali was also tackled by the committee over the non-composition of custom board since 2015 when it was dissolved.
Querrying operations of the Custom without its Management board in place, Committee Chairman, Senator Hope Uzodinma (PDP Imo West) said it was illegal for the custom CG alone to be promoting and firing officers without the board in place and ordered immediate constitution of the board.
“You claimed that the Minister of Finance is the one delaying the composition of the board, this committee will write 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.
“We are releasing you to go and sew your uniform while we continue with officials of Ministry of Finance and Central Bank”, Uzodinma added.