Senate Angry as Customs Chief Ali Shuns Invitation

Customs chief Hameed Ali will not appear before the Senate today.

Senators have been insisting that the Comptroller-General should appear “in uniform” to explain the planned enforcement of duty collection on old vehicles.

Col. Ali told reporters in Abuja yesterday that he would stay away from the Senate in deference to a court order.
Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami also wrote to the Senate, urging it to suspend its invitation to the Customs CG because of the court matter.

But the Senate insisted that no court could stop it from carrying out its constitutional duty. A source said the lawmakers might consider issuing a warrant for Col. Ali’s arrest.

Col. Ali told reporters after attending a meeting at the Presidential Villa that “the case is in court already”.

”Somebody has sued us. It is subjudice. I have got my writ of summons and they said status quo ante should remain, which means nothing should move until the court makes a pronouncement,” he said, adding:

“A private individual sued all of us; he wants an interpretation of the section that is in contention. I don’t want to talk so that I am not held in contempt of court.”

The plantiff is Mohammed Ibrahim, a lawyer.

The originating summons in the suit with the National Assembly and the Attorney General of the Federation as defendants seek, among many other things, a clarification on “whether the appointment of Ali by the President, having been made pursuant to sections 5 and 171 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) can be subjected to the provisions of the Customs and Excise Act or any other law; whether there is any legal provision that prescribes the wearing of uniform as a condition precedent by the 1st defendant (Ali) in view of his appointment under Section 171 of the 1999 Constitution (as emended).

Col. Ali also told some reporters: “Based on the advice from lawyers and briefing from the Office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice who is also a party in the suit, I won’t be appearing before the Senate tomorrow until the court decides otherwise”.

Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, confirmed the receipt of the AGF letter. “There is a communication, although I have not seen the content. So, I won’t be able to make any categorical comment on it, “he said and insisted that the court had no power to stop the Senate from conducting its constitutional duty.



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