By Henry Umoru, Dapo Akinrefon, Joseph Erunke, Levinus Nwabughiogu & Ifeyinwa Obi
ABUJA—THE Senate, yesterday, asked President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately sack the Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, Col Hameed Ali (rtd.), because he is too old and unfit to hold public office.
According to the Senate, Ali’s sack has become imperative because he is unable to show respect to the Senate as an institution, despite being an appointee of the government. The Senate also asked the NCS to cancel, outright, its proposed payment of import duty on old vehicles.
The resolutions of the Senate followed Ali’s failure to appear before it yesterday as expected. Col Ali had earlier said he would not appear before the Upper Chamber because of a court order.
The Senate also resolved to write President Buhari to caution the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), to respect the principle of Separation of Powers.
It urged the President to restrain the AGF from unconstitutional interference in the work of the National Assembly.
The Senate berated the AGF for attempting to derail it from carrying out its functions and described his letter advising the Senate to desist from further attempt to summon the Comptroller General of Customs in official uniform as an insult to the National Assembly.
The senators equally resolved to send their resolutions to the House of Representatives for concurrence to make the resolutions that of the National Assembly.
Malami had written the clerk of the Senate, Tuesday, demanding that the Senate put on hold further actions against the Customs boss, as the matter had been taken to court.
The Senate had earlier entered an executive session that lasted for one hour 10 minutes, where the issue of Ali and other matters relating to the Senate were discussed.
Ali too old for the job—Melaye
Senator Dino Melaye, APC, Kogi West, who queried whether a court process can stop any arm of government from carrying out its duties, said: “What we have from the AGF is an insult to the National Assembly. Where did the AGF, who we screened on this floor, derive his powers from to tell us how we should carry out our duty?”
Noting that the position of the CG is that of a public servant, Melaye said that Ali has exceeded the stipulated age for public servants, and is therefore not qualified for the designation of CG, just as he cited Public Service Rules, Guidelines for Appropriation, Promotion and Discipline and the Pension Reform Act 2004, which all stipulate that 60 years or 35 years of pensionable service (whichever is earlier) as compulsory retirement age for all grades in the service, including the Customs.
Buhari’s enemies in the presidency— Misau
Senator Isa Misau (APC, Bauchi Central) said that enemies of the Buhari government are within the Presidency and do not want the government to succeed, considering the kind of advice they are giving the President.
According to him, the enemies of the President have resumed, taking steps that are capable of causing tensions two weeks after the President resumed from a medical vacation.
Senator Misau said: “The AGF is trying to cause problems between the National Assembly and the Presidency. If he writes this kind of letter, then we should imagine the kind of advice he is giving the President.”
Face-off not our business— Presidency
Meanwhile, the Presidency, last night, dissociated itself from the face-off between the Senate and the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (retd.), saying the issue does not concern it.
When contacted to react on the Senate’s resolution, the Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said: “It is not a Presidency matter.”
However, Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, said there was need to keep the relationship between the executive and the legislature intact because both arms of government had been doing a lot together.
He added that they will continue to have a lot to do together in future in the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians.