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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  • absam777

    Please Mohammed Ali don’t go. Resign if you have to because these bunch of thieves are not worth any respect.

    • Frank Bassey

      You seem not to understand the issue. Ali is equally heading a bunch of thieves. Did you not hear Prof. Itse Sagay recently, that nothing has changed under Ali?

  • JOHN

    The impunity of this Hameed Ali most be put on check. Can you imagine Ali saying he was not appointed to wear Custom’s uniform meaning the Custom officers should not be on uniform when on duty. Check out such mentality. I am sure this man cannot add any value to the service only to cause problems for the organization.

  • Frank Bassey

    Before you comment, ensure you understand the issue. It is not about showing the volume of idiocy, abuse or insult in your mouth. We must learn to separate individuals from institutions. Hameed Ali is a public servant; he is not heading his father’s estate. What is wrong in appearing in the Customs uniform, meet the lawmakers — under hilarious atmosphere? Hold discussions with them. Explain the reason(s) for introducing the curious “show your vehicle import duty” policy – something that would spell great inconvenience to Nigerians and expose them to even greater corrupt exploitation by the Customs. Who is fooling who? Prof. Itse Sagay, Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee on Corruption, said recently that under Ali, nothing has changed in Customs – corruption is as rife as it had been. Under Ali, large number of pump-action rifles were cleared in the Wharf. Under Ali, the scanner that should serve as means of detecting imported dangerous items is not functioning. Should this man not concentrate in making the system work than this empty grand-standing and wild goose chase of trying to please a Strong Man? Authoritarianism is sweet when one is a mere observer; when one is a victim, the tune is different.

  • Idris

    Can somebody tells Hameed Ali that pride goes before destruction.
    This is the more reason Nigeria seems to be wandering in an endless circle. Why would a man appointed to serve turn himself to a semi-god and he doesn’t give a hoot? It is clearly obvious that military blood in him has taken the better part of him, which is why he cannot see, think and reason beyond his Kafanchan cap and white beard.

    Is Customs his personal entity or a statutory body set up by laws of the land? Does Hameed Ali realised we are in democracy and not military where rules and order are given at the discretion of the few privileged opportunists?
    The earlier he is made to know this, the better.

    This is because he is derailing already. If you as a public servant/officer, you have any policy or programme of action that has direct bearing with people, and the Lawmakers, who we see as the representatives of the people are demanding for explanations, why on earth should you find it difficult to seize that avenue to market your programme, if truly it is something that will benefit everyone?

    This is the more reason we have been clamouring for a system that will prevent too-big, above-the-law, Mr-know-all and the likes from holding sensitive positions in the country. Where these have happened, they have ended up abusing the system. If he cannot serve truly, let him go and rest. He should resign immediately.

  • Isa Bn Aly

    How gullible we are, always swayed by random emotions. Col. Hameed as the head of NCS is one of the best things to happen to the Nigerian economy in recent times. Why all these hullabaloo about uniform, has any of us crying “..the service is not his father’s estate, …” asked those murderous, diversionary, roguish criminals what the constitution or establishing laws of the NCS said about who heads it and what relates to uniform?

    • Gary

      You are being perfectly rational and factual and not emotional or gullible by calling others “murderous, roguish criminals…”?Good for you.

      There’s something to be said for humility and humane considerations in carrying out lawful functions. That regretfully seems to be lacking in most of President Buhari’s political appointees; either by design or mere coincidence. Ali is just the latest exemplar of this mindset that mistakes wickedness for efficiency and treating citizens like glorified military conscripts.

      The people are not recruits in need of military discipline as Buhari and his sycophant appointees have disastrously sought to impose on the country throughout his public life.

      We cannot have a democracy without democrats. And Hameed Ali, Ibrahim Magu, Lawal Daura, IGP Idris, Abba Kyari, Babachir Lawal, Femi Adesina, Lai Mohammed are in government and by their actions have become a hindrance to democracy in Nigeria.

  • zallo

    The Hameed Ali I know will never go there tomorrow. Even if it happen he goes that for sure will be without uniform.

  • Bahaushe

    Instead of dancing naked in public the Senate should legislate stop Custom from enforcing duty on old vehicles plying our roads with some vehicles old enough to have zero depreciation value.Its an double edge sword debacle, the need for revenue to run the Govt which is necessary and the need to protect citizenry from undue harassment from Customs on the other end.But the Senate are wrong in their approach by trying to intimidate the retired Army asking him to appear in Uniform.Must him wear Uniform before he is recognized as Custom boss?At present Custom is one of the life wire of NIGERIAN economy unless it is a deliberate plan to pull down this Government economically it is better to engage him with best etiquette.CUSTOM as a revenue generating parastatal is much more useful to Nigerians than these Senators that consume 1/5 of our earnings with no tangible value addition to the nation.

    • Idris

      To be sincere with ourselves, no matter how good intention one may have, when it comes to execution, the possibility of abuse cannot be ruled out. The Customs officials that we see daily on Nigerian roads – How many of them can we vouch for? How many of them can we trust?

      It is not only limited to the Customs, even the Police. They are birds of the same feather. I bet, people that have had one experience or the other in the hands of these uniformed enemies of Nigerians can tell better.

      By saying Hameed Ali should take responsibility and behave in a manner that befits his office, that does not mean one is taking side with the NASS members. Of course, a good number of them (NASS members) have shown clearly they are just there to warm seat, and fight for their pocket.
      But in this situation, calling on the Customs boss to come and defend himself, sure I see that as another intervention from NASS just as they did when Communications Minister and his cohorts wanted to jack up Mobile Data tariff.

  • Ceejay Iloelunachi

    I shake my head as I view comments here….U guys are part of those championing a democratic institution that makes laws for the nation to be undermined. If Ali feels he cant wear the uniform to the customs job, he should quit and let those who can have the job. Its a prerequisite for this said job and posterity won’t be fair on him. He is setting a dangerous precedent here that may hurt the nations interests in the future. The same Ali would tow the line if it was a western country asking him to do same…..yet he and his boss are the type that claims to love Nigeria more than anyone else.

  • DTaj

    Wole Soyinka DID NOT wear the FRSC uniform throughout his tenure as FRSC Corps Marshal (another para-military agency).

    Ali said that the fact that Haladu Hananiya (former NDLEA DG) wore the uniform, even as a retired soldier (like him, Ali) does not mean that it was right! He, in fact, said that Hananiya was wrong to have gone against established military rule (by wearing the uniform)!

    These Senators are lazy bones! Ali has massively improved levy collection by the Customs Service and has also blocked the avenue for these clowns and their collaborators to injure the Nigerian economy through smuggling, under-declaration of value, bogus/dubious waivers, and they are out to disgrace him!

    Also, I am always wary of “any fight” championed by Dino Melaye…He is a shady fellow.

    Every public official that is doing very well is being attacked by the National Assembly, especially by that useless Senate!

    • Idris

      From your justification, are you saying a vehicle bought over five, ten years ago, owners should come forward to pay Customs duty just because you want to boost revenue?
      Can’t the duty payments take effect from now onward?

  • Isaac Azor

    Ahmed Lawan has started on a very wrong footing by teaming up with forces that are bent on ruining Nigeria for their selfish ends. Anyway, I have said it before that it’s clear now who these importers who would not pay duties on imported goods are – members of the national assembly.

  • Sword of Damocles

    “The integrity of the Senate is being tested”- James Manager, PDP-Delta

    My Fellow Countrymen & women, may I please beg your indulgence to MEDITATE on the above statement.

    These men & women that purport to lead Nigeria, truly have no regard for us or our fatherland. integrity of the Senate
    ? really? I wonder if Dino “Barawo” Melaye or “sticky fingers” Saraki would care to elucidate any further. This is the height of FARCICAL, integrity? I just cannot get over that word. My friends of the Nigerian Senate, ALIENS IN OUTERSPACE know that the all of your were born THIEVES then day you all came out of respective mothers wombs. You guys are very lucky that the Armed forces are the “praetorian guards” for the ruling elites, worthless cockroaches!!!

  • Otile

    This particular arrogance & disrespect for elected lawmakers is caused by
    Buhari who made the bad choice of hand-picking a retarded/retired army man to
    head the Customs. Hameed Alibaba has no regard for the uniform
    of those he sees as inferior bloody civilians. Alibaba is there for the
    hefty pay the office offers not to contribute anything useful. Since
    Imam gave him the post for being Northern Muslim there has been no value added, it has been as
    they say in the army ‘as waya’. Imam, please go back to Landan let
    Nigerians manage their lives.