Senate, Customs chief, Hameed Ali, set for showdown as lawmakers insist he appears

Nigerian Senate Chambers
Nigerian Senate Chamber used to illustrate the story.

The Senate appears set for a showdown with the Comptroller of Nigeria Customs Service, Hameed Ali, after lawmakers rejected Mr. Ali’s plan not to appear before them on Wednesday.

Mr. Ali had earlier on Tuesday informed the Senate that he would not appear as scheduled as he had the Customs management meeting already slated for the same Wednesday.

The Senate wants him to explain the Customs’ planned clampdown on vehicles that have no duty clearance.

But senators rejected his excuse, with Senate Leader Ahmed Lawan saying it was not acceptable.

“The integrity of the Senate is being tested,” said James Manager, PDP-Delta, who also picked hole in the way the letter was addressed.

Members approved a vote called by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, to reject Mr. Ali’s letter, and therefore mandated him “to appear in uniform tomorrow (Wednesday as scheduled) by 10:30 AM“.

The Senate summoned Mr. Ali over Customs’ plan to impound vehicles that have no import duty clearance. It specifically asked him to appear in uniform.

But on Friday, Mr. Ali defended the plan, and said he was only going to honour the Senate’s summon if the invitation.

“I was not appointed Comptroller General to wear uniform,” he said.

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 was also appointed head of Customs from outside the service.

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