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Col. Ali Rejects Customs Appointment?

Refusal Of Col. Hammed Ali To Show Up And Assume Duty Is Fuelling Speculation That He May Have Rejected The Appointment Following Concerns Over Legality Of The Presidnet’s Action

There are indications that Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd) may have rejected his appointment last week, as the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service. Col. Ali, who was appointed from retirement, to lead the Customs, is yet to report to the Headquarters of the organisation in Abuja to assume duty fuelling questions over his acceptance of the appointment.

A source close to the service informed The UNION weekend that Ali may have been disappointed with the appointment. The source specifically said the retired Colonel, who had before now served as President Muhammadu Buhari’s personal Chief of Staff, seems unhappy with the offer. Another source at the presidency disclosed that Ali may have conveyed rejection of the offer at a meeting he had with President Buhari at the State House last Tuesday.

According to our source, Col Ali allegedly told the President that he preferred to serve him as Chief of Staff. The source said Ali had functioned in that capacity for Buhari in the past five years. “He does not seem happy with the appointment. We hear he said he would have preferred to be retained as Chief of Staff but someone has already been appointed and sworn in for the office”, the source said in confidence. “The fact that he has not assumed duties is enough to fuel speculation that he has rejected the offer”, our source at the Customs said.

The UNION also understands that Ali had also pointed out to the President that the appointment was not in conformity with the law establishing the Customs. Though this could not be independently verified by The UNION, it is understood that Martins Kure Abeshi, appointed same day with Ali as Comptroller General of Immigration Service, has already assumed duties. There are also indications that the International Organisation of Customs had written President Buhari advising against Ali’s appointment.

The letter, The UNION learnt, drew the President’s attention to the consequences of Ali’s appointment for Nigeria which may include losing membership of the exalted global body.

Meanwhile, The UNION learnt that President Buhari may be forced by the situation to reverse himself and confirm Deputy Comptroller-General, Dr. John Atte, who has been acting since Abdullahi Inde Dikko’s retirement. It was also gathered that a legal advice to the President recommended observance of gazetted guideline for the appointed of a Customs CG.

According to The UNION sources, the President was reminded that being a para-military agency, bringing somebody outside the Service to head the Customs would cause chaos and avoidable problems for his government. “He was told that if the Customs Act is silent on the mode of succession as CG, the law allows him to check what enabling law of similar agencies of government say.

And from the Police and Civil Defence Acts, it was clear that in case of any vacancy, the next most senior officer takes charge”, our source disclosed. Col. Ali’s appointment as Customs CG had generated a lot of concern among service personnel and others. Headquarters of the service at Wuse Zone 3, Abuja, had remained in suspended animation as officers wondered what became of their professional calling in the service of fatherland if they could not aspire to lead the organisation.

Officers of the service, alongside other ranks, were said to have expressed displeasure over the appointment despite explanation by the Presidency that Ali would only be a sole administrator. Those opposed to Ali’s appointment had cited Section 3.11:1 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Official Gazette No. 24. Vol. 89 of 25th March, 2002, which says the choice of Comptroller- General, shall be by appointment of a suitable Deputy Comptroller-General (DCG).


-Our Reporter

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