The Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali (retd.), has dropped his earlier plan not to honour the summons of the Senate.
A reliable source close to the leadership of the Senate said on Tuesday that Ali was advised to honour the Senate invitation in order to avert a clash between the Legislature and the Executive.
Ali had told the Senate, in a letter, that he would not appear before the lawmakers on Wednesday (today) as his summons to the chamber coincided with the routine management meeting of the NCS.
The Customs boss requested the upper chamber of the National Assembly to fix another date for his appearance.
Ali’s letter, which was signed by an Assistant Comptroller General, Azarema Abdulkadir, was read to lawmakers at the plenary on Tuesday.
The Senate had, on Thursday, asked the Customs boss to appear before it “unfailingly” on Wednesday, stating that Ali would not be admitted into the chamber if he failed to appear in the uniform of the service showing his rank as the DG.
A source said the Customs boss was advised by the Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senate, Ita Enang, to meet with Senate President Bukola Saraki ahead of his appearance before the Senate on Wednesday (today).
According to the source, the Customs DG disregarded his first letter to the Senate, in which he informed the Senate of his intention not to appear before the lawmakers on Wednesday.
“He wrote a second letter after the Presidency’s intervention.
‘‘There are more chances now that he will answer the Senate’s summons tomorrow. People are now seeking soft landing for him,” the source said.
Unlike the first letter which was signed by an Assistant Comptroller General, Ali personally signed the second letter.
In the second letter, the Customs DG made no reference to the first letter.
The second letter read, “May I respectfully refer to your letter dated 9 March and inform Your Excellency that the decision on payment of Customs duties by vehicle owners, who do not have them as prescribed by law, is currently being reviewed. The goal of the review is to take a broad additional input from the stakeholders and the public. I will welcome the opportunity to avail the Senate of our findings.
“Regarding the wearing of uniform, I wish to advise that the Senate avails itself of the legal basis of its decision to compel me to wear uniform.
“I am similarly taking legal advice on this issue so that both the Senate and I will operate within the proper legal framework.”
Ali’ll do the appropriate thing –Customs
When contacted on Tuesday to find out if Ali would honour the Senate’s invitation in view of the insistence of the lawmakers that the Customs CG must appear before them on Wednesday, the Acting Public Relations Officer, NCS, Joseph Attah, simply said the CG would do the right thing.
“He would do the appropriate thing. The CG would do the appropriate thing,” Attah said without being specific.
When pressed to confirm if doing “the appropriate thing” means that the CG would appear before the Senate as directed, Attah stated, “I have the confidence that the CGC will do the appropriate thing.”