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Reps To Probe Customs’ Failure To Auction Impounded Goods

Written by Maritime First
  • As NBA chief, SAN flay Ali over Refusal to wear uniform to Senate

The House of Representatives on Thursday in Abuja mandated its Committee on Customs and Excise to investigate the failure of the Nigerian Customs Service to auction confiscated goods.

This followed adoption of a motion on the “Need to Investigate the Failure of the Nigerian Customs Service to Auction Confiscated Goods’’.

The sponsor of the motion, Rep. Prestige Ossy (Abia-PDP) said that ban on the auction of goods seized by the NCS had resulted to the forfeiture of such goods to the Federal Government.

“it had resulted to the proliferation of seized goods at various formations of the Nigerian Custom Services’’, Ossy indicated, raising the alarm that over N6bn worth of goods already impounded were fast depreciating in value, since the ban came into effect, in 2015,.

He said that goods seized in large numbers from different parts of the country included vehicles, consumables, clothing materials and containers of assorted household goods.

The lawmaker said that instead of auctioning the seized items worth billions of naira, the service left them to degrade.

“Most of these goods, especially the vehicles with Duty Paid Value (DPV) worth over N6 billion, are rapidly dilapidating and depreciating in value.

“The Customs service will eventually spend huge amount of money in disposing them when it ought to have generated huge revenue for the government by auctioning them before they weather away,’’ he said, pointing out that the Customs Service actually came up with an auction sale website in 2015, but has since gone to bed, two years on, while the website went into the doldrum.

“The failure to auction goods in its custody had denied the Federal Government over N1 trillion which ought to accrue to it from the auctioning of those goods,’’ he said.

After the adoption of the motion, the house passed it to the Committee on Customs and Excise to investigate and report back in eight weeks.

In the meantime,  some eminent Nigerians have expressed support for the Senate for turning back Ali for his refusal to appear before the lawmakers in the Customs uniform.

The Vice-President, Nigerian Bar Association, Monday Ubani, said although no law compelled the Customs CG to appear before the Senate in uniform, Ali must demonstrate discipline and respect for national institutions by wearing uniform.

Ubani said this on Thursday, just as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Yusuf Ali, added that if Ali would not wear the uniform of the agency he headed, the Presidency should reconsider his appointment.

Ubani said, “There are people who have retired in the military and later appointed to head sister agencies, and they still wore that agency’s uniform. Someone like that was retired General Hananiyyah, who was appointed as the FRSC boss and he still wore the FRSC uniform.

“The Senate is being insulted by Ali’s supposed indiscipline. This is democracy and the Senate, as the institution representing the people, deserves some level of obedience. The way forward is for Ali to behave himself and respect himself.

“Ali is saying he wants to get legal advice, but why didn’t he seek the advice when taking up the appointment? Why is it now that he knows that he, as a head of a uniformed agency, has to appear before the Senate in uniform that he is seeking legal advice?

“There is no known law that Ali has flouted, but wearing uniform simply shows discipline, identification and respect for the agency one is heading.”

Also Ali, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said, “If Ali has been appointed to head an agency that wears uniform , and he says it is not his tradition to wear such, decency and discipline demand him to simply reject the appointment, rather than become the subject of controversy.

“If he insists on his refusal, what precedent is he setting for Customs officials? To me, it is more than the issue of law, it is about national ethos and discipline.

“The way forward is for the President, who appointed him, to take the decision. He is an appointee of the President, and the President should decide what is best for him since he is not comfortable to wear the Customs uniform.

“We were not consulted when he was appointed. Those who have the power to hire reserve the power to fire.”

The SAN added, “I have never heard that the head of the Customs wears anything apart from the service uniform. It will look mischievous if the head of the Customs wears caftan to review a parade. If someone knows he cannot conform to tradition of an institution, then he should leave. It is like a lawyer, who says he doesn’t want to wear wig and gown to the high court. Is that possible? You don’t expect a lawyer to go to court with babaringa.

“I think there is a law in Customs Act that stipulates that uniform should be worn. Why would someone say because ‘I am a Colonel, I don’t want to wear uniform (of Customs)’.

Additional report from Punch

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Maritime First