Senator Solomon Adeola (APC, Lagos West) has said that the Senate Resolution summoning the Nigeria Customs Service Comptroller General Hameed Ali to appear in Custom Service uniform and rank to explain his refusal to suspend the policy on duty on vehicles and other recent acts of the Customs was to protect the organizational integrity and discipline in the institution of the Customs Service as well as protect the interest of the people.
Responding to reports of the Customs boss promise of appearing before the Senate in plenary this week in mufti as usual since his appointment as CG, Senator Adeola said it is regrettable that as a retired army colonel who should know the importance of uniforms, the Custom boss want to demean and undermine the symbolic importance of uniforms, discipline as well as the authority it confers on the agency in its operation as a lawful body.
In a statement signed by Chief Kayode Odunaro, the Media Adviser to Senator Adeola, “Military and paramilitary uniforms inclusive of ranks are part of the symbol of legitimate authority conferred on the wearer to carry out certain duties on behalf of the government. Except in covert operations, an officer in these organizations operating without uniform could be taken to be performing illegal duty or worse, be taken as not representing the institution at all. And as stated on the floor of the Senate in plenary, the Comptroller General is rank that can only be worm on uniform and not on mufti” the senator stated.
Senator Adeola said there is concern among officers and men of the Customs Service on the appointment of ‘outsider’ to head the agency as it is a morale killer, career progression inhibitor as well as damaging to the organizational growth of the service stressing that there may be need to amend the Nigerian Customs Act to restrict appointment of CG to career officers as is done in the Nigerian Police Force, the Nigerian Immigrations and the Nigerian Prisons Service.
“The APC led Government of President Mohamadu Buhari was elected on the promise of change, adherence to rule of law and renunciation of impunity in any forms. The story we hear daily is the arrogance and high handedness of the CG and name dropping of the President. We had it on good authority of his reluctance to be answerable to the Minister of Finance as stipulated in laws of the land. We that were elected cannot look the other way while the people we represents are subjected to avoidable hardship orchestrated by an unelected appointee in a bid to cure the inefficiencies of the agency he leads. We are in a democracy” Senator Adeola stated.
The senator representing the largest senatorial district in Nigeria in terms of population said the Senate is in support of President Buhari’s anti corruption drive as well as effort to increase revenue to get the nation out of recession adding that no one should use personal idiosyncrasies to drive public policy as it appears is the case with the current leadership of the Customs.
“We respect the right our President to appoint those he believes can do the job among the teaming millions of Nigerians but in recent times the operations of the Nigerian Customs with midnight “break in” and impoundments, killings leading to protests and demonstration by the citizenry requires that the National Assembly seeks clarifications from the leadership of Customs. We cannot allow the return of impunity and disregards of due process and rule of law. If retired Colonel Ali cannot respect the Custom service or is ashame of wearing its uniform and rank of his position while appearing before peoples’ representatives, then he should honourably resign. We have had a Major General Haladu Hanniya as head of FRSC wearing the agency’s uniform as well as a Major Danjuma Maigari wearing even the KAI uniform in Lagos State all in a bid to promote agencies they lead. This is not the Abacha military era when a Sole Administrator was appointed to head the Nigerian Customs.” Senator Adeola stated.