By Ben Agande
ABUJAâ€”The SenateÂ Â has ordered the Comptroller-General of Customs, Abdullahi Inde Dikko to immediately reinstate Mrs Faith Umoh who wasÂ unlawfully retired from the services of the Customs without following the prescribed procedure for the retirement of customs officers.
This followed the adoption of the report of a Senate Committee set up to investigate the circumstances that led to the premature retirement of Mrs Faith Umoh from the Nigerian Customs Service after she had petitioned the Upper Legislative Chamber.
The senate also ordered the Comptroller-General of Customs to reinstate the petitioner without her losing her benefits and seniority, pointing out that the retirement of Umoh was not only premature but also without due process.
Mrs. Umoh had petitioned the senate in July, 2008 that other officers with less qualifications and performance records were left behind while she was wrongfully retired at the age of 47 years.
Accuses Customs of victimization
According to the report of the committee which informed the senate resolution, MrsÂ Umohâ€™s retirement was not based on any known criteria.
The senate noted that although it could not prohibit any of the different services of government to re-organise and restructure for greater performance, the retirement of Umoh was premature and without any procedure, noting that the manner of Umoh’s retirement was suggestive of victimization by the then Comptroller-General of Customs.
The report said, â€œthis kind of vendetta for whatever reason is unacceptable in a service that requires fair and equitable treatment. The then newly appointed Comptroller-General was to serve for less than a year because his retirement was at hand, and to engage in such massive retirement exercise buttresses the point that there was something more to the purported re-organisation.
â€œThat the new Comptroller General that is currently serving had not retired any officer since he had been appointed also indicates that the so-called tradition is not really correct.”
Senator Effiong Bob who tabled Mrs Umohâ€™s petition on her behalf said the reinstatement was, â€œthe triumph of democracy and rule of law. She felt that there was a breach of her right to serve up to the age of 60 or 35 years in service as required by regulation.
â€œWe thank God that there is rule of law and efficacy of democracy. Without democracy where would this have happened? Where will you have debated this injustice?
Says Finance Minister condemned retirement
â€œWhat might interest you is that the Chairman of the Board of Customs, who is also the Minister of Finance, Remi Babalola condemned the arbitrariness and the way and manner Umoh was retired from service. â€œThe essence of the petition was that there was no query at all nor has she been warned of any act of misconduct throughout her career.”