By Francis Etuko, with PRNigeria reports.
The Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Mr. Hamid Ali has written a letter to the National Assembly that he would not be able to appear before the Senate on March 22, 2017 as scheduled.
His letter comes as the Senate President’s office explained that the seizure of a car said to belong to him had nothing to do with on-going investigations of the Customs and its boss.
Ali who is to appear Wednesday before the Senate in an official uniform of the Customs Service said he is acting on a legal advice he received from the Attorney General of the Federation and Justice Minister, Abubakar Malami asking all parties involved with the Senate’s invitation to stay action pending the determination of an originating summons filed by one Mohammed Ibrahim.
But a Senate rule gives the Upper House the power to carry out its lawmaking duties whether there is a court action or not, as long as the Senate President does not think it is prejudicial.
A source at the headquarters of the Service said an official letter had been despatched to the National Assembly over the legal advice.
Saraki’s spokesman, Yusuph Olaniyonu, in a ststement Tuesday said the matter of the seized car is between the Customs and a supplier commissioned by the Senate; and not between his boss and the Customs.
He said the allegations raised on Tuesday by Senator Ali Ndume linking Saraki to the importation of vehicles lacks basis and it is outright falsehood.
He stated, The facts and documents about the seized vehicles shows that the Senate President has nothing to do with the importation of any vehicles’
“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 in the name of Saraki into the issue.
“The documents on the vehicle are there for the general public to view and make their conclusions. Now, that the matter has been referred to the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, all the facts will be out.”
Meanwhile, a legal practitioner has asked the Federal High Court Abuja to restrain the National Assembly from compelling the Comptroller General of Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (rtd.) to wear uniform in the performance of his duties.
The suit, filed this week, named Ali, the NCS, the National Assembly, the Senate and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) as first to fifth defendants.
The plaintiff, Mohammed Ibrahim is seeking for a court declaration that Ali’s appointment as Customs boss cannot be subject to the provisions of Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) or any other law.
A declaration that Ali who is not a commissioned officer of the NCS is not mandated by law to wear uniform and that the oversight functions of the National Assembly does not extend to compelling and mandating him to appear before it in uniform.
The plaintiff is also asking for an order of perpetual injunction restraining both the NASS and the Senate from compelling Ali to wear uniform in the performance of his duties.