The attorney-general of the federation, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN) has written to the Nigerian Senate to give reasons why it would be improper for the comptroller-general of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Col Hameed Ali (rtd) to appear before the senate on Wednesday.
The AGF also provided details of a suit filed in court by a lawyer, Mr Mohammed Ibrahim, on the necessity of the customs boss to wear the agency’s uniform.
Col Ali had, while speaking to newsmen on Tuesday, referred to a court action preventing him from honouring the senate’s invitation.
Senate committee chairman on media and public affairs, Senator Sabi Abdullahi confirmed that there was a letter from the AGF but could not say for sure if that meant the customs boss was exempted from honouring the senate invitation.
In the suit being referred to, which was filed at the Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday, the plaintiff, Ibrahim, sued Ali, the customs service, the National Assembly, the Senate President and the AGF as defendants.
In the suit number: FHC/ABJ/CS/207/2017, Ibrahim is seeking a declaration of the court that appointment of the first defendant (CG customs) having been made pursuant to Section 5 and 171 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) “cannot be subjected to the provisions of Customs and Excise Management Act or any other law.”
He also asked the court to declare that the CG “not being a commissioned officer of the Nigeria Customs Service is not mandated by law to wear the NCS uniform.”
Ibrahim also urged the court to declare that “the oversight functions of the National Assembly do not extend to compelling, mandating and enforcing the first defendant (CG) to appear before it in uniform.”
He further asked the court for “an order of perpetual injunction restraining the 3rd (the National Assembly) and the fourth defendants (Senate President) from mandating, compelling and enforcing the first defendants to wear uniform in the performance of his duties.”
Ali in an interview later on Tuesday also knocked influential people in the country for evading duties and stated that he had a mandate to check such abuse.
He said, “The truth is that when I came in one of the difficult tasks is how to deal with, ‘big men.’ Big time businessmen in the past have created a situation that they were the beneficiaries of waivers and concessions. Huge amount of money is lost in this country through waivers and concessions.”
There are presently allegations making the rounds that the row between the senate and the customs boss evolved from the decision of the customs to seize a vehicle imported by the senate president, Bukola Saraki for failing to pay appropriate duty on the vehicle.