From Fred Itua, Abuja
Senator Solomon Adeola, who represents Lagos West, has said the Senate resolution, asking the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) Comptroller General (CG), Col. Hameed Ali, to appear in service uniform was aimed at protecting the organisation’s integrity.
He added that the move was also to safeguard the discipline of the Customs as well as protect the interest of Nigerians.
Responding to reports on Colonel Ali’s promise to appear before the Senate in mufti, Senator Adeola said it was regrettable that a retired army colonel wants to demean and undermine the symbolic importance of uniform, discipline and the authority it confers on the agency.
“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 organisations, 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,” the senator stated.
Adeola said there was concern among officers and men of the Customs on the appointment of an ‘outsider’ to head the agency, as it is a morale killer, career progression inhibitor as well as damaging to the organisational growth of the service.
He stressed that there might be need to amend the Nigerian Customs Service Act to restrict appointment of CG to career officers, as is done in the Nigerian Police, the Nigerian Immigration and the Nigerian Prisons Service.
Said he: “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 form. 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 will not 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. We respect the right of our president to appoint those he believes can do the job among the teaming millions of Nigerians, but in recent times the operations of the Nigeria Customs, with midnight ‘break ins’, seizing of items and killings, leading to protests and demonstration by the citizenry require that the National Assembly seeks clarifications from the leadership of Customs.
“We cannot allow the return of impunity and disregard of due process and rule of law. If retired Colonel Ali cannot respect the Customs Service or is ashamed of wearing its uniform and rank of his position while appearing before the people’s representatives, then he should honourably resign.
“We have had a Major General, Haladu Hanniya, as head of FRSC, wearing the agency’s uniform as well as a Major Danjuma Maigari, wearing even the KAI uniform in Lagos State, all in a bid to promote agencies they lead. This is not the Abacha military era when a sole administrator was appointed to head the Nigerian Customs,” Senator Adeola stated. (The Sun)