These are not the best of times for Customs Comptroller General, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), as the Senate yesterday threatened to issue a bench warrant on him if he failed to show up in the Red Chamber in his uniform 10:00 a.m. Thursday.
Analysts have said that Ali is caught in the web of wanting to effect change “too fast and too soon in a sector that has many contending forces, mostly evil.”
One source close to the National Assembly has said that “though what he is pursuing is good, his arrogance is spoiling it all…see the way he went public to say he could not be compelled to wear Customs uniform…that was bad politics in the midst of a brood of vipers.”
He failed to show up Wednesday and the lawmakers were infuriated when the reason he gave this time, in a letter he personally signed, was that he was bereaved.
An earlier letter by one of his subordinates to the Senate Tuesday said he could not show up because of a management meeting he had to attend Wednesday. He was thoroughly tongue-lashed for this perceived insubordination.
Former Sokoto Governor, Senator Aliyu Wammako, in a statement, Wednesday, suggested that Ali did not respect constituted authority, something he dared not do as a military political office holder.
On the fresh order to Ali, Wammako said that the Senators merely reaffirmed their commitment to the people of Nigeria.
He added, “On the issue of Col. Hameed Ali, the Comptroller General of Customs, the Senate is unanimous that his action is an affront on the legislative arm of government. And an affront on the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.
“Under a military government, Col. Hameed Ali would not dare refuse the instructions of his Commanding Officer. He would definitely be charged for treason and court martialled
“Col. Hameed Ali is not above the law and cannot claim to love Nigeria more than 170 million Nigerians, whose mandate we exercise. The Senate will no longer tolerate affronts on it’s power.”
Ali’s latest letter to the Senate reads: “May I respectfully refer to your letter Reference No. NASS/CS/8S/R/09/29 dated 9th March, 2017 and inform Your Excellency that the decision on payment of Customs duties by vehicle owners who do not have them as prescribed by law is currently being reviewed.
2. The goal of the review is to take a broad additional input from stakeholders and the public on all its aspects. I will welcome Opportunity to avail the Senate on our findings and the way forward on improving our capabilities to plug major drainage: in the nation economy without adding to hardships and within our mandate.
3. Regarding the wearing of uniform, I wish to advise that the Senate avails itself of the legal basis of its decision to compel me to wear uniform. I am similarly seeking legal advise on this issue, so that both the Senate and I will operate within the proper legal framework.
4. I regret my inability to answer the Senate invitation owing to a recent bereavement. I Will however, make myself available whenever 1 am needed in future….”