The Nigeria Customs Service said on Tuesday that its embattled Comptroller-General will not appear before the Senate as summoned last week.
Joseph Attah, NCS spokesperson, told PREMIUM TIMES Thursday evening that Hameed Ali will not be honouring the mandatory appearance which senators issued to him last week.
Consequently, the instruction that Mr. Ali must appear in uniform will also be discarded, Mr. Attah said.
Mr. Attah said Mr. Ali’s decision not to appear before the Senate on Wednesday was based on a written instruction from the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami.
He said Mr. Malami was acting based on a writ of summons filed by a lawyer in Abuja.
The lawyer, identified as Mohammed Ibrahim, dragged Mr. Ali, the Senate, the Attorney General and the Nigerian government before the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, seeking judicial intervention in the ongoing controversy about Mr. Ali’s refusal to wear Customs uniform.
Mr. Attah said Mr. Ali “just received a written advice from the Attorney-General’s office urging all parties to stay action on the matter.”
The spokesman further stated that, “based on that new development,” Mr. Ali “will not be appearing before the Senate tomorrow.”
He said the Senate was also copied in the advice issued by Mr. Malami for all parties to stay action.
In his suit, Mr. Ibrahim asked the court to clarify if there is any legal basis for Senate’s demand that Mr. Ali must appear before it in uniform.
PREMIUM TIMES saw a copy of the court filing Tuesday evening.
Senate spokesperson, Sabi Abdullahi, could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening. His number indicated it was switched off.
A spokesman for the Attorney-General was not available for comments Tuesday evening.
Senators chased Mr. Ali out of the chambers after he appeared before them in a cloth other than his Customs uniform.
Mr. Ali, a retired colonel, has not been seen in Customs uniform since he was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, sparking confrontation between him and senators who threatened serious consequences if he failed to do so by Wednesday.
Mr. Ali’s supporters have argued that he was not a career Customs official and had already
worn the uniform of the Nigerian Army where he rose to be a colonel and thus could not wear the uniform of a para-military agency like the Customs.
But PREMIUM TIMES’ findings revealed last week that one of Mr. Ali’s predecessors, Bello Haliru, wore uniform despite being appointed outside the service.
Our findings also showed that Haladu Hananiya, a former Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps, wore the agency’s uniform even though his appointment came years after he retired as a major general in the Nigerian Army.
But Mr. Attah said Nigerians should look at Mr. Ali’s performance since he took charge of Customs nearly two years ago rather than focusing on uniform.
“He was appointed to restructure, reform and raise revenue for the country and he has been found to have performed greatly,” he told PREMIUM TIMES last week.