Ahead of his expected appearance before the Senate today, the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), on Tuesday evening paid an unscheduled visit to the Senate President Bukola Saraki at the National Assembly Complex.
Ali, who was summoned to appear before the Upper House today, is expected to explain to Nigerians the implications of his planned policy on retrospective duty payment on vehicles which is billed to takeoff in April.
The CG had written a letter to the Senate, seeking to defer his appearance to a new date on the ground that today’s invitation coincides with the Customs Service’s fortnightly management meeting.
This provoked the chamber to reinforce its earlier resolution, insisting that he must appear today and also in full Customs’ uniform, depicting the rank of the Comptroller-General.
The AUTHORITY learnt that three hours after yesterday’s resolution by the Senate, Ali sneaked into the National Assembly about 5.00pm, to perhaps ask for soft-landing.
It was further gathered that Ali, realising the implication of the Senate’s action, rushed to the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, at his National Assembly office.
Our correspondent learnt that Enang led him to the office of the Senate Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan, at about 5.30pm, from where he was taken to Saraki’s office in the company of Lawan, Senator Hope Uzodinma and Enang at about 6.00pm.
Ali was seen in his traditional attire of white caftan and was accompanied by Senator Kabiru Gayah and Enang out of Saraki’s office at about 6.49pm while the Senate President left his office at about 6.30pm.
However, all efforts to get the outcome of the secret meeting between Ali and the leadership of the Senate proved abortive as none of those who were at the parley disclosed anything to reporters.
Meanwhile, Ali late yesterday issued a second letter in which he made no reference to the first one written on his behalf by an Assistant Comptroller-General.
The letter reads in part: “May I respectfully refer to your letter dated 9th 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,” Ali said.
Also, yesterday, Saraki informed his colleagues that the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, would appear before the Senate by 11.30am today to be screened for his confirmation as the substantive chairman of the commission.
Magu was rejected on December 15, 2016 by the Senate over alleged unfavourable security report.