The Senate Committee on Customs and Excise Duties has asked the Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Service, Hameed Ali, to start wearing uniform.
The Senate committee invited Mr Ali to explain the reason for the promotion and the sacking of officers without the approval of the Customs board.
This is coming less than a week after an importer, Ifeanyichukwu Okonkwo, dragged President Muhammadu Buhari and Finance Minister before a federal high court in Abuja over “unlawful appointment” of Mr Ali as Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service.
Ex-comptrollers general also recently picked hole in Mr Ali’s appointment, saying he should rather be addressed as “sole administrator of customs”.
Perhaps angered by the retired colonel’s appearance in mufti, a senator representing Ebonyi Central, Obinna Ogba, on Thursday asked Mr Ali why he does not wear uniform like any other officer.
“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 asked.
In response, Mr Ali explained that his reason for not wearing the uniform is because he is a retired army officer, adding that it was against military tradition for him to wear the uniform of another organisation.
But Mr Ogba retorted, saying “this is how you people keep deceiving Nigerians on wrong action and still defending it.”
He walked out on the session.
Also, Hope Uzodinma, chairman of the committee and senator from Imo west, faulted the decision of the customs boss to promote and fire officers without recourse to a board.
He said it was illegal of the CG to carry out such administrative assignments without a board in place.
But Mr Ali blamed the ministry of Finance for the delay in the constitution of a board for the NCS.
In response, Uzodinma assured him that the committee would send a letter to the ministry and other relevant bodies for the immediate constitution of the NCS 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 of Nigeria (CBN),” he added.