The Comptroller-General (CG) of Customs, Col Hameed Ali (rtd) has said he would not appear before the Senate today following a court order, which restrained him from honouring the lawmakers’ summon.
Addressing State House correspondents after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Aso Rock, Abuja yesterday, the embattled customs chief said the case is already subjudice.
According to Ali, “The case is in court already. Somebody has sued us. I have gotten my writ of summons and they said the status quo ante should remain, which means nothing moves until the court makes a pronouncement.”
Similarly, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Malami (SAN) yesterday advised the Senate and the Customs CG to stay action on the issue.
Meanwhile, the Senate yesterday asked its Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions to investigate the allegation that an armoured Range Rover Sports Utility Vehicle said to worth N298 million and seized by the Nigeria Customs Service belongs to Senate President Bukola Saraki.
The decision was based on a point of order raised by Senator Ali Ndume (APC, Borno South), who also urged the upper chamber to investigate the certificate issue involving Senator Dino Melaye.
With Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu’s nod, Ndume submitted some newspaper publications, after which the matter was referred to the Senate committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions for further investigation.
However, media aide to the Senate president, Yusuph Olaniyonu, said the allegation linking Saraki to the importation of the vehicle was outright falsehood.Olaniyonu explained: “A supplier was engaged by the Senate to supply a vehicle. While transferring the vehicle between Lagos and Abuja, it was impounded by the customs.
We believe that is an issue between the supplier and the customs because the Senate has not taken delivery. So, why is somebody trying to drag the name of Saraki into the issue?”
In a related development, the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) has threatened to sue Ali if he wears the customs uniform to the Senate.
President of NAGAFF, Oluwole Adeyemi said Ali was not a proper customs officer but on a presidential assignment with clearly defined mandate to restructure, reorganise the service and increase government revenue.
It described any attempt by Ali to wear the uniform as a wrong assumption of the character of a customs officer. NAGAFF maintained that the assigned tasks given him should be of more concern to Nigerians.
“For the public interest, the avoidable argument with regard to Ali’s uniform saga, the locus of NAGAFF to approach the court is to ensure that the laws of the land are not flouted or disrespected in a democratic setting.”
The Senate yesterday also urged the Federal Government to bear the cost of rebuilding the burnt houses and businesses during the recent ethnic clash in Ile-Ife, Osun State with a view to alleviating the sufferings of the victims. It called on the government to pay adequate compensation to the families of the bereaved victims and the injured as a matter of utmost urgency.
These resolutions followed a motion, titled: “The Ethnic Clash in Ile- Ife, Osun State,” sponsored by Senator Jibrin Barau (APC Kano North) and co-sponsored by Senator Shehu Sani (APC Kaduna Central) in which the senate also called on the Inspector General of Police to prevent a re-occurrence of such dispute in Ile Ife or anywhere else in the country.