- Query Ali’s appointment as Sole Administrator
- Say it breaches NCS Act
There was animated suspense inside the Zone 3, Wuse Headquarters of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, yesterday as officers of the Service allegedly rejected the appointment of Col. Hammed Ali (rtd) as successor to immediate past Comptroller-General, CG Abdullahi Inde Dikko.
President Muhammadu Buhari had last Thursday announced the retired soldier as the new CG Customs among other sensitive appointments.
The development immediately elicited worries within the rank and file of the NCS across the country, with most of them querying the appointment of a “non-career” official to head the place.
But while the mooted agitation was on, the presidency was to clarify issues by stating that Ali’s mission to NCS was to serve as Sole Administrator of the Service.
According to our usually reliable sources, President Buhari’s decision to appoint Ali as Sole Administrator stems from the fact that the office of Comptroller-General is a career position and Ali, being a retired military officer, should not be named Comptroller-General as it is inconsistent with all the rules related to Customs administration.
In President Buhari’s desire to establish absolute control over major institutions in the country, he has jettisoned the time-honoured rules of seniority in the Customs Service, neglecting six Deputy Comptrollers-General to appoint Ali as Dikko’s replacement.
However, unlike all other appointments made by Buhari, stakeholders and the Customs community have refused to be intimidated into accepting the President’s choice of Ali for the Service.
Reacting to speculations that Col. Ali may have been re-designated Sole Administrator, a former Comptroller-General, who prayed for anonymity, said such an action was unconstitutional and a total breach of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA). He urged the President to reverse the decision adding that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Nigeria Police for instance, which Nigerians unanimously agree are the most corrupt institutions, did not get such humiliation. He said if not reversed, the action may further encourage indiscipline and impunity in the Service.
Citing a report published in TheCable, “According to section 3.11:1 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Official Gazette No. 24. Vol. 89 of 25th March, 2002, the choice of Comptroller-General shall be by appointment of a suitable Deputy Comptroller-General (DCG).”
Regardless of this provision, Buhari’s decision to appoint Ali as Comptroller-General has resulted in creating confusion and uneasiness in the Service.
According to a source inside Customs House Abuja, “The President is empowered by the Constitution which allows him to appoint anybody to help him exercise his executive powers, however, this should not be to the detriment of professionalism and respect for order,” he said.
“Since Ali was appointed, the entire Service has been thrown into confusion as nobody knows what to expect from the former military police officer when he resumes office,” another officer added.
However, there are strong indications that all may not be well following Ali’s failure to show up at Customs Headquarters to resume duties since his appointment was announced about a week ago. Insider reports suggest that the retired army officer may have declined his appointment, citing issues of bad-blood that are sure to arise as a result of the unfair treatment meted out to the serving DCGs and other officers.
“It is quite unusual for a new appointee to still be absent from his duty post one week after appointment. Ali has neither visited the Customs Headquarters nor sent an advance team to prepare the ground for his resumption. It is surely an indication that something is wrong somewhere,” a top Customs officer told our correspondent.
In an obvious but unsuccessful attempt to defend President Buhari’s actions, an aide who declined being named, told our correspondent that Ali’s appointment was aimed at cleaning up the rot in the Customs Service. His statement however, is an indictment on Dikko’s administration and also reveals the preferential treatment given to Mr. President’s kinsmen in the ongoing political and agency shakeup.
Ali had served the three military regimes of Generals Buhari, Babangida and Abacha and until his recent appointment, was Buhari’s close confidant and friend.