By Philips Sunday
Abuja, (AN24) – Report reaching Africa News 24 has it that the Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali (retd.), has concluded plans to honour the summons of the Senate, putting to an end the controversy surrounding his earlier refusal to honour the Upper Chamber invitation.
Recall that the Nigerian Senate had on Thursday (March 9), asked the Customs boss to appear before it “unfailingly” on Wednesday (March 15), stating that Ali would not be admitted into the chamber if he failed to appear in the uniform of the service showing his rank as the DG.
Reacting to the summons, Ali told the Senate, in a letter, that he would not appear before the lawmakers on Wednesday, March 15 as his summons to the Red chamber coincided with the routine management meeting of the NCS.
Ali however requested the upper chamber of the National Assembly to fix another date for his appearance.
Meanwhile, there are indications that the Customs boss has dropped his earlier plan not to honour the summons of the Senate.
Several report have it that the Customs boss made the decision to honour the summons of the Senate after President Muhammadu Buhari waded into the matter.
The Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service was advised to honour the Senate invitation in order to avert a clash between the Legislature and the Executive.
In a bid to avert a possible clash with the Red chamber, Mr. Ali visited the leadership of the Senate on Tuesday evening.
The Customs boss arrived at the National Assembly complex at 5.30pm, where he first had a short meeting with the Majority Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan, before moving to Saraki’s office, where they had a closed-door meeting.
The Customs Director General left the National Assembly at 6.45pm, shortly after a letter indicating his readiness to honour the Senate invitation was delivered to the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki.
The letter was dated March 14, 2017, and was delivered to Saraki after the plenary, in the letter, the Customs DG disregarded his first letter to the Senate, in which he informed the Senate of his intention not to appear before the lawmakers on Wednesday.
A Source close to the Customs DG, told Punch that Mr. Ali wrote the second letter after President Buhari’s intervention.
“He wrote a second letter after the Presidency’s intervention.
‘‘There are more chances now that he will answer the Senate’s summons tomorrow. People are now seeking soft landing for him,” the source said.
Unlike the first letter which was signed by an Assistant Comptroller General, Ali personally signed the second letter.
In the second letter, the Customs boss made no reference to the first letter.
The second letter read, “May I respectfully refer to your letter dated 9 March 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. The goal of the review is to take a broad additional input from the stakeholders and the public. I will welcome the opportunity to avail the Senate of our findings.
“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 taking legal advice on this issue so that both the Senate and I will operate within the proper legal framework.” The letter added.