The Senate, on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 declared the embattled comptroller-general of Nigerian Customs Service, Colonel Hameed Ali (Rtd.), unfit to hold any public office.
It also called for his resignation and cancellation of the retrospective policy on duties for vehicles. The Senate made the declaration after the Customs CG failed to appear before it.
The clerk of the Senate read a letter from the federal attorney general, Mohammed Malami, advising the Senate to step down the matter of the invitation of the Customs CG, as the matter is in court and deliberating on it would be sub-judice.
The letter elicited strong reactions from lawmakers, who after a closed-door session, where they brainstormed on the issue, accused the AGF of incompetence and flaming division between the National Assembly and the presidency.
Ali first angered the lawmakers by refusing to wear his service uniform and later decided not to appear before them.
Ali Prays At Aso Rock
The Cable reports that after observing his prayers at the presidential villa mosque on Tuesday afternoon, he told journalists, “The case is in court already. Somebody has sued us. It is subjudice. I have gotten my writ of summons and they said status quo should remain ante which means nothing moves until the court makes a pronouncement.”
“A private individual sued all of us, he wants an interpretation of the section that is in contention. I don’t want to talk so that I am not held in contempt of court,” the customs boss said.
He then rushed out of the villa on foot using the security gate used by service chiefs.
Senate Walks Ali Out Over Defiance
The Nigerian Senate, on Thursday, March 16, 2017 sent away, Colonel Ali for failing to appear before it wearing customs uniform as earlier directed by the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly.
The senators in a voice vote ordered the customs boss, a retired army colonel, to reappear before the legislative arm in customs uniform next Wednesday [March 22, 2017].
Ali, who appeared in a white caftan, had told the senators that no law makes it compulsory for him to wear customs uniform.
This angered the senators, with some of them declaring the reply as derogatory and unacceptable.
They cited sections 7, 8 and 10 of the Customs Act which state that customs share the same privileges with police and other security institutions.
Senator 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.
“The Act further states that the power to prosecute is that of executive and certain officers including CG has that power.
“This implies that your position is statutory, meaning you must conform to the Act.
“Besides, wearing uniform is anchored in the Constitution.
On the C-G’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 C-G ought to have sought legal advice before deciding not to wear 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.
‘Ken Saro-Wiwa Killer’
One of President Muhammadu Buhari’s first appointments was that of naming a member of the extra-judicial panel that sentenced Ken Saro-Wiwa to death, Colonel Hameed Ali as head of the Nigeria Customs Service in August 2015.
Colonel Ali was military administrator of Kaduna State from 1996 to 1998 under the despotic regime of the late General Sani Abacha.
Reacting to the cold-blooded murder of Ken Saro-Wiwa and 8 other Ogoni indigenes, Col. Ali said he had no regrets over his role in the judicial process that led to Saro Wiwa’s execution.
In November 2015, Colonel Ali ordered the impounding of a sculpture created as a memorial to Ken Saro-Wiwa, which had been sent as a gift to mark the 20th anniversary of their execution by the military government.