Crisis rocks Nigeria Customs Service as all deputy comptroller-generals resign

Comptoller-General of Nigeria Customs Service, Hamid Ali, addressing the agency's personnel

In what appears a protest against the leadership style of the newly appointed Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Hameed Ali, all five Deputy Comptroller-Generals of the Nigerian Customs have resigned.

Resignation letter of Nigeria's deputy comptroller-generals
Resignation letter of Nigeria’s deputy comptroller-generals

In an unprecedented move in the history of the customs service in the country, the five DCGs jointly announced their resignation in a terse letter dated October 29, 2015 titled “Voluntary Retirement” addressed to the Chairman of the Customs Board.

“We the underlisted officers currently on the rank of Deputy Comptroller-General met today, 29 October 2015 and unanimously agreed to voluntarily retire from the service of the Nigerian Customs Service having risen to the privileged rank of Deputy Comptroller-General.

We need to thank the President for giving us the opportunity to serve our great nation, Nigeria.

The letter was signed by Atte, A.J with service number 31441; Musa T.A, 31454; Mera I.M, 37595; Nwosu A.C, 34421; Adewuyi A.A, 30727.

Though they gave no reason for their resignation, it is believed that the DCG unanimously quit service following the no-nonsense leadership style of Mr Ali, a retired army Colonel, known for his anti-corruption stance.

The Nigeria customs is believed to be one of the most endemically corrupt institutions in the country and Mr. Ali was recalled from retirement by President Muhammadu Buhari to help sanitise the agency.

The spokesperson of the customs service, Wale Adeniyi, could not be reached for comments as at the time of publishing this story.Customs' deputy comptroller generals resign

However, a source close to him said he would issue a statement on the development on Friday (today).

Mr. Ali has been talking tough since he assumed duties as head of revenue agency in September.

On his second day at work, he read the Riot Act to officers and men, vowing to jail anyone who indulges in corruption or any other unethical practices.

The Nation newspaper quoted him as saying at a meeting with top officers, ”

“Since I took over yesterday (Thursday), I have been receiving briefing notes to enhance my understanding of the Nigeria Customs Service. I have articulated some ideas to start with, and I have found it necessary to share these ideas with you. These ideas shall be the guiding principle and platform for a smooth takeoff.

“First and foremost, it is important that we know where we are going. We can start by ensuring that we pick up the mantle of Mr. President’s policy thrust. Therefore, in conjunction with you, moving with you and fighting with you we will fight corruption and restore discipline through attitudinal orientation for effective service delivery.

“However, I must stress this for emphasis. I will not tolerate indiscipline. I will not tolerate corruption. I have zero tolerance for corruption.

“Considering my military background, I believe punishment must be punitive for others to see it as a deterrent. Therefore, as an officer of the Nigeria Customs Service, if you are caught involved in corruption, I am not only going to dismiss you, I will make sure I prosecute and jail you. That is basic!”

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Nicholas Ibekwe is PREMIUM TIMES’ Head of Investigations. He is a graduate of English Language from the Lagos State University. He has a Master’s in International Journalism from City University, London, United Kingdom.

Nicholas, who is 2016 fellow of the World Press Fellowship, has won several awards for his work including the Wole Soyinka Prize for Investigative Journalism, two-time finalist, FAIR( Forum for African Investigative Reporters) Award, and Chevening Scholarship. Twitter: @nicholasibekwe 


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