Uniform: Crisis looms as Senate works out CG Customs, Ali
There are palpable fears in the maritime industry that a major crisis might be looming over the decision of the Senate, Nigeria’s upper legislative chamber to order Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali out of the red chambers for failing to appear in uniform.
The Senate had sequel to an earlier between the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and the CG Customs Tuesday, on the controversy surrounding the imposition of import duty on vehicles imported into the country, directed the CG to appear before the Senate on Thursday in plenary in full uniform, having failed to appear before it on Wednesday on the claims that he had a crucial meeting to attend.
It was however gathered that the Customs CG today appeared before the Senate in mufti, which the upper legislative chambers considered an affront and thus ordered him to walk out of the chambers.
Analysts say that the next option available to the Senate is to a bench warrant for the arrest of the CG, as it earlier threatened a development that might trigger crisis not only between the National Assembly and the Customs but also the entire executive arm of the government.
This apprehension is further reinforced by the belief by some Senators that the Customs CG is taking an undue advantage of his close affinity with President Muhammadu Buhari to rde rough shod over the Senate, which they described as unacceptable.
There are also fears that the maritime industry would be affected negatively should the Senate decide to issue a warrant of arrest on the CG.
It was further gathered that the President was not happy with the CG over handling of the issues of summons and wearing of uniforms arising from the imposition of new tariff on vehicles imported into the country.
The President had said: “I cannot afford to have you soil the current cordial relationship between the executive, especially the presidency and the National Assembly, which we need seriously at this period in the life of this administration”,
He therefore urged the Comptroller General to urgently resolve all issues with the National Assembly, especially with the Senate, insisting that he cannot at this time afford to have another crisis with the legislative arm of the government.
The service had yesterday officially announced the suspension of the planned motor duty payment, citing what it called unnecessary tension generated as a result of misconception and misrepresentation of the policy.
This was contained in a statement issued by the acting Public Relations Officer of the service, Joseph Attah on behalf of the Comptroller General, Ali.
The statement attributed the suspension to the unnecessary tension generated as a result of misconception and misrepresentation of the Nigeria Customs Service’s planned motor duty payment and a meeting between the leadership of the National Assembly and the CG with a view to resolving the impasse.
It was gathered that both parties agreed that the proposed motor duty payment, though in line with the provision of Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) Cap C.45, LFN 2004 should be put on hold while the Senate Committee on Customs and Excise interfaces with the NCS for further discussions.