“I was not appointed Comptroller General to wear uniform,” Customs’ Hameed Ali replies senators

Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs, Hameed Ali
Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs, Hameed Ali

The Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Customs Service, Hameed Ali, has replied the Senate after the lawmakers ordered him to appear in “appropriate” uniform next week over the service’s planned action against owners of vehicles without duty payment.

Mr. Ali in an interview granted Television Continental, TVC, and monitored by PREMIUM TIMES on Friday, said the Senate should be more concerned about his performance, and not his uniform.

Mr. Ali, a retired colonel, was appointed Customs chief in 2015 by President Muhammadu Buhari, becoming the second to be so appointed from outside the service.

Under former military dictator, Ibrahim Babangida, Bello Haliru became the first head of Customs to be appointed from outside the service.

The Senate, Thursday, summoned Mr. Ali after Dino Melaye (APC, Kogi) told his colleagues that Mr. Ali had shown no regard to the lawmakers’ resolution that the planned clampdown on vehicles without duty payment be halted. The senators then stressed that he should appear in his full Customs uniform, which Mr. Ali has never worn.

“No, I was not appointed the Comptroller General to wear uniform,” stressed Mr. Ali. “Does the uniform work or the person behind the uniform?”

He added: “Am I doing my job or not? I think that’s what should interest the National Assembly.”

Two senators, Solomon Olamilekan (APC-Lagos) and Lanre Tejuoso (APC-Ogun), also said the Customs operatives had been “going after vehicles, lorries, imported rice”.

“If we suspect that smuggled items are brought into your own house, we have the rights to condone that house, and go in and search,” said Mr. Ali, hitting back at the senators.

The official said he was yet to receive the invitation to appear before the Senate.

He, however, said he was ready to appear before the Senate, if the invitation followed due process.

I am yet to receive formal invitation. If the proper procedures for official invitation to chief executives of government officials are followed, I will appear before the Senate.” he said.

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