The Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali (retd.), has dropped his earlier plan not to honour the summons of the Senate…and on the front burner is the policy of payment of additional custom duty on cars cleared or not cleared by custom agents
A reliable source close to the leadership of the Senate told one of our correspondents on Tuesday that Ali was advised to honour the Senate invitation in order to avert a clash between the Legislature and the Executive.
The Customs boss requested the upper chamber of the National Assembly to fix another date for his appearance.
Ali’s letter, which was signed by an Assistant Comptroller General, Azarema Abdulkadir, was read to lawmakers at the plenary on Tuesday.
The Senate had, on Thursday, asked the Customs boss to appear before it “unfailingly” on Wednesday, stating that Ali would not be admitted into the chamber if he failed to appear in the uniform of the service showing his rank as the DG.
The Customs boss was advised by the Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senate, Ita Enang, to meet with Senate President Bukola Saraki ahead of his appearance before the Senate on Wednesday (today).
On Tuesday evening, Ali arrived at the National Assembly complex at 5.30pm.
He first had a short meeting with the Majority Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan, before moving to Saraki’s office, where they had a closed-door meeting.
Security operatives shielded the Customs boss from journalists when he was approached for comments after the meeting.
He left the National Assembly at 6.45pm.
The letter was dated March 14, 2017, and was delivered to Saraki after the plenary.
According to the source, the Customs DG disregarded his first letter to the Senate, in which he informed the Senate of his intention not to appear before the lawmakers on Wednesday.
“He wrote a second letter after the Presidency’s intervention.
‘‘There are more chances now that he will answer the Senate’s summons tomorrow. People are now seeking soft landing for him,” the source said.
Unlike the first letter which was signed by an Assistant Comptroller General, Ali personally signed the second letter.
In the second letter, the Customs DG made no reference to the first letter.
The second letter read, “May I respectfully refer to your letter dated 9 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.
Non,Nigerians are saying…”U turn or no U turn,the bottomline is that the policy of payment of additional custom duty on cars cleared or not cleared by custom agents is retrospective and illegal as this is not guided by any law.
”No one is challenging the Nigeria Customs and excise that is why the custom boss can be bold enough to act the way he did. At the port and border posts, they collect two times duty on the old vehicles and the money will not be accounted for. A 2004 model of any car., they charge you for( 450000 naira) four hundred and fifty thousand naira which is far above the normal tariff. How can the economy grow. Any model from 2006 upward goes for six hundred thousand, seven and so on. Senate see to it. If you cannot afford to pay the vehicle becomes theirs.”