The Senate yesterday sent the Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), packing from its chamber over his failure to comply with the directive to wear service uniform to the session.
The upper chamber had summoned the Customs boss to appear before it to throw light on the controversial policy on retrospective payment of duty on vehicles.
The invitation also mandated the CG to wear Customs uniform.
In line with the resolution, Ali appeared yesterday.
But, he was left waiting in the office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang, for about two and half hours.
By exactly 12.05, Ali was ushered into the chamber by Enang following a motion by Senate Leader Ahmed Lawn.
Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, who presided, reminded Ali why he was invited and went ahead to ask the CG why he did not wear appropriate uniform in line with the directive of the Senate.
The Customs boss acknowledged receipt of the first summon, which required him to appear in Customs uniform, but claimed that the second summon was silent on whether he should appear in uniform or not.
Ekweremadu told him that the second invitation was a reminder that he must appear before the Senate.
Ali responded that on the issue of whether to wear uniform or not, he was seeking legal opinion and asked the Senate to also seek legal advice so that they could operate at the same level.
Ekweremadu then threw the matter to the floor for comments.
Na’Allah, who was the first to speak, reminded the Customs boss that he raised the motion over the policy on retrospective payment of duty on old vehicles.
He said: “I crave your indulgence to try and put a recital with what I can best refer to as unnecessary controversy.
He then referred the Customs CG to relevant Sections of the Customs and Excise Act.
Senator Solomon Adeola (Lagos West) put it more succinctly.
Adeola said: “To start with, this Senate, the highest lawmaking body of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, issued a resolution and the content of the resolution is crystal clear and which states that the Comptroller-General of Customs appear before it in uniform. The resolution still stands and what is happening here today is contrary to the resolution passed by the 109 senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“I believe it is only right and proper for the C-G of Customs to comply with that resolution and as you can see here this afternoon, every other person that have followed the CG of Customs into this chamber are fully dressed in their attire as member of the NCS and I want to say this, anybody can dress in mufti and call himself CG.
Senator Jibrin Barau (Kano North), in his contribution, noted that having heard what Na’Allah said, the Customs boss should go back and comply before he could be allowed to address that Senate.
Senator Magnus Abe (Rivers South East) reminded Ali that he is the image-maker of the NCS and should work to build the image of the Service he superintends.
Senator Thompson Sekibo said that the business of governance should always be based on rule of law.
He moved that Ali should be given another date on Wednesday to comply with the Senate resolution by wearing appropriate uniform before he could be allowed to address the Senate.
Senator Barnabas Gemade seconded the motion.
The adoption of the motion that the Customs CG should go back and appear on Wednesday in proper uniform was unanimous.
Ekweremadu amplified the resolution, saying: “The Senate observed that the Comptroller-General was not properly dressed. The Senate, therefore, insists to see the Comptroller-General of Customs in uniform on Wednesday, 22 of March at 10a.m. prompt.”