Reprieve may have come for the Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs, Colonel Hameed Ali (rtd), who was ordered to appear in complete uniform before the Senate on March 22.
The development, follows a suit filed by an Abuja based lawyer, Mohammed Ibrahim, seeking a perpetual injunction restraining the National Assembly from compelling the CG to wear uniform in performance of his duties.
Mr Ali, who acknowledged receipt of the court summons, told a news conference that the Attorney General who is a co-defendant in the suit, has written to the National Assembly advising lawmakers to maintain the status quo, pending the outcome of the suit.
“Based on the summons before the court, all matters relating to the issue are now subjudice so status quo is “anti” which means I will not appear until the court makes a pronouncement therefore the situation remains as it is”.
The CG had been summoned to defend the payment of retroactive duties by motorists whose vehicles have no genuine import duties.
Although he eventually appeared before the Senate on March 16, he made good on his word of not appearing in his uniform.
The House, however, refused to engage him and fixed another date (March 22), for him to appear as required; failure to which the Senate leadership might be forced to issue an arrest warrant as initially threatened.
Meanwhile, more reactions have continued to trail the issue.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana, in a statement condemned the summoning of Mr Ali.
He said that although the Senate should not be treated with disdain, the Upper Chamber should have appreciated the limit of its powers under the constitution.
According to Mr Falana, instead of playing into the hands of the Customs boss by invoking the provision of Section 88 of the Constitution, the Senate could have summoned the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, to justify the policy of the Nigeria Customs Service, a parastatal under her supervision.
“No power exists under the section for general investigation, not for personal aggrandizement of the House. So the appellants were not entitled to have invited the respondent in the first instance,” Mr Falana said.