“Wear uniform or resign,” Senate tells Customs boss Hammed Ali

The Senate has asked the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Hameed Ali to resign if he cannot appear before it in his uniform.

The upper chamber during plenary last Thursday mandated Ali to appear before it in Customs uniform over the agency’s plan to impound vehicles that do not have customs duty from April.

“If retired Colonel Ali cannot respect the Customs service or he’s ashamed of wearing its uniform and rank of his position while appearing before peoples’ representatives, then he should honourably resign,” Senator Solomon Adeola representing APC, Lagos West, said in a statement issued on Sunday, March 12.

The Senator also explained that the Senate mandated Ali to wear his uniform in order to protect the organizational integrity and discipline in the institution.

At the Thursday plenary, Adeola had backed Senator Dino Melaye on the need for the Senate to curb Ali’s ‘high-handedness.’

He said the Customs boss is “carrying out the affairs of this agency as if he is the managing director or the commander-in-chief of this country.”

However, the Comptroller General, in response to the Senate order, said he would not wear his uniform to the National Assembly, noting that he was not appointed to wear the uniform.

Ali has been wearing mufti while carrying out official duties since his appointment.

In the statement, Senator Adeola expressed disappointment in Ali’s response, saying he expected him, as a retired army colonel, to know the importance of uniforms.

Adeola said: “Military and paramilitary uniforms inclusive of ranks are part of the symbol of legitimate authority conferred on the wearer to carry out certain duties on behalf of the government.

“Except in covert operations, an officer in these organizations operating without uniform could be taken to be performing illegal duty or worse, be taken as not representing the institution at all. And as stated on the floor of the Senate in plenary, the Comptroller General is rank that can only be worn on uniform and not on mufti.”

According to him, there is concern among officers and men of the Customs Service on the appointment of ‘outsider’ to head the agency as it is a morale killer, career progression inhibitor as well as damaging to the organizational growth of the service stressing that there may be need to amend the Nigerian Customs Act to restrict appointment of CG to career officers as it is done in the Nigerian Police Force, the Nigerian Immigrations and the Nigerian Prisons Service.

“The APC-led Government of President Muhammadu Buhari was elected on the promise of change, adherence to rule of law and renunciation of impunity in any forms. The story we hear daily is the arrogance and high-handedness of the CG and name dropping of the President. We had it on good authority of his reluctance to be answerable to the Minister of Finance as stipulated in laws of the land.

We that were elected cannot look the other way while the people we represent are subjected to avoidable hardship orchestrated by an unelected appointee in a bid to cure the inefficiencies of the agency he leads. We are in a democracy,” the  Senator added.

The lawmaker stressed that the Senate supports Buhari’s anti-corruption drive as well as effort to increase revenue to get the nation out of recession but cautioned that no one should use personal agenda to drive public policy.

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