Senate's Scrutiny Of Ali Should Be Issue-Based, Not On Uniform - NAGAFF

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From the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), one of the group of clearing agents,  came support for the embattled comptroller general of the Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), who is locked in a dispute over his refusal to wear the official uniform in responding to a summon from the upper legislative chamber.

The group said Ali is not bound by any regulation or law to wear the uniform to match his designation as comptroller general.

Rather, the Senate should focus on issues associated with evaluating the performance of the Customs under Ali's watch. NAGAFF's spokesman,  Stanley Ezenga, said uniform has no impact on efficient service delivery in the Customs.

Speaking in Lagos on Thursday,  Ezenga said: “We at NAGAFF are not in support of the call for the sack or resignation of the Comptroller-General of Customs by the Senate over his refusal to appear before it in full customs uniform.

“Our position is based on the fact that the issue has nothing to do with service delivery and that he is not compelled by any rule or law to do so as he is not a career customs officer.

“Rather than delving so much on the issue of uniform wearing, we urge the senate to criticise the CG on issues of performance and other things that could make the customs deliver on their mandate.

“We appeal to the Senate to spare us all this uniform drama and focus on better issues that could deliver the dividends of democracy to Nigerians," he said.

The Senate had on Thursday, March 16 turned back Ali for not appearing in Customs uniform. By a voice vote, the Senate had directed him to return to the National Assembly on Wednesday, March 22, in proper uniform designated for the office of Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service.

The decision of the Senate followed a motion by Senator George Sekibo (PDP, Rivers East), who relied on Section 89 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and seconded by Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu.

Ali had argued that he had no knowledge of any law compelling him to wear uniform. The senators had invited him to explain his decision the implementation of the controversial policy on payment of duty for old vehicles.

That has essentially taken back stage as the retired army colonel embarked on a game wits and muscle flexing with the senators. Since his appointment as a non-career comptroller general of the Customs in December 2015, Ali has refrained from wearing the service's uniform.