Senators, Col Ali clash over Customs uniform

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From Fred Itua, Abuja

Senators on the Committe of Customs and Excise, yesterday, had a heated debate with the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Col. Hameed Ali (retd), over his refusal to wear its uniform since he was appointed in 2015 by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The argument occurred during an interactive session with committee members. Officials from the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) were also in attendance.

At the session, a member of the committee, Senator Obinna Ogba  challenged Ali on his refusal to wear the NCS uniform,  almost two years after his appointment.

The Senator said the act is “highly demoralising to officers and men of the front-line revenue generating agency.

“Mr. CG, we want this committee to know the reason you are still in mufti, close to two years after your appointment as the Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service.”

But, Ali, in his response, said being a former military officer, the statute of the military does not permits him to wear any other uniform.

The response infuriated another member of the Committee, Senator Dino Melaye who reminded the Customs boss that a retired General of the Nigerian Army, Halidu Hananiya wore the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) uniform when he was appointed Corp Marshall.

Unrelenting, Ali countered Dino by submitting that Hananiya made a mistake with that action.

Ali’s statement again angered Senator Ogba who angrily walked out of the meeting and said, “this is how you people keep deceiving Nigerians on wrong action and still defending it.”

Ali was also tackled by the committee over non-composition of the Custom board since 2015, when it was dissolved.

Chairman of the Committee, Senator Hope Uzodinma, said it was wrong and illegal for the Custom boss alone to be promoting and firing officers without the board in place and ordered immediately, constitution of the board.

“You claim that the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, is the one delaying the composition of the board.

“This committee has written a letter to the minister, Secretary to the Government and Attorney General of Federation, Babachir David Lawal, to put the board in place without any further delay,” he said.

At the end of the session, the chairman jokingly told the Customs boss “we are releasing you to go and sew your uniform while we continue with officials of the ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Nigeria.”

inal to teach a man not to defend himself when he is the constant victim of brutal attacks.”— Malcolm

– The Sun

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