Hameed Ali, comptroller-general of the Nigerian Customs Service, says he cannot appear before the upper chamber of the national assembly on Wednesday because the day coincides “with the fortnightly meeting of the NCS management”.
Ali was summoned by the senate over the plan of the agency to collect duty on vehicles that had already been imported into the country. The lawmakers had told the comptroller-general to appear in uniform, prompting Ali to say he was not appointed to wear uniform. But at plenary on Tuesday, Ali pleaded for another date.
“I’m directed to acknowledge the receipt of your letter no NASS/CS/8S/09/29 of 9th March 2017 on the above subject matter. I have been further directed to tell you that the date given to the comptroller-general of the Nigerian Customs Service Wednesday 15th March 2017 to brief the senate in plenary on the retrospective duty payment of vehicles in Nigeria has coincided with the fortnightly meeting of the NCS management,” read the letter signed by Azawoma A, an assistant comptroller-general.
“The comptroller-general is humbly requesting the new date from the distinguished senate, as we wait your favourable response please be assured of the highest regards and also of the comptroller-general of customs.”
Speaking after the letter was read, Ahmed Lawan, senate leader, said Ali failed to show respect to the senate by not signing the letter himself.
“I’m eager to make to observations here from the letter read by the clerk. First, the excuse for not appearing tomorrow is because it coincides with routine fortnightly meeting of management of the NCS. That does not take precedence on the invitation of the senate,” Lawan said.
“Secondly, the letter was signed by someone else, not the CG of customs. My opinion is that a letter coming to the senate from the customs especially an invitation was written for the customs CG to appear here who should have taken personal interest and signed it. That will have given, in my judgement, some sense of respect for the institution not for us.”
He said the senate should oblige Ali and grant the extension to show “that we are different”.
On his part, James Manager, senator representing Delta south, said the comptroller-general must appear on Wednesday.
Senate President Bukola Saraki also said Ali must come before the upper legislative chamber on the day given to him.