Senate summon of the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Col. Hameed Ali (retd.) has been branded illegal and not justified by the constitution.
This assertion was made by a human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN).
Falana said Senate has no authority to invite Ali on the reason of challenging the policy of the NCS on payment of duties.
He stated this in a write-up on Sunday, arguing that the “Senate lacks the vires to summon the CGC on policy matters.”
He argued, “Indeed, the oversight power of either House of the National Assembly is not at large but limited by section 88 (2) of the constitution.”
Falana cited the case of El-Rufai Vs House of Representatives, where the Court of Appeal, basing its judgement on the case of the Senate of the National Assembly Vs Tony Momoh, held that, “No power exists under the section for general investigation, not for personal aggrandisement of the House.”
He said, “In the instant case, the Senate is not conducting an investigation but challenging the policy of the Nigeria Customs Service on payment of duties. With respect, the summons served on the CGC is illegal and unconstitutional as it cannot be justified under section 88(2) of the constitution.”
Falana also argued that Senate was wrong to insist that Ali must appear before it dressed in customs uniform.
He said, “Neither the constitution not the Rules of Procedure of the Senate has conferred on it the power to compel the CGC to wear customs uniform when he is not a serving customs officer. Indeed, the directive is a reckless usurpation of the powers of the board which is the only competent body to decide on the wearing of uniform by customs officer.
“Col. Ali cannot be made to wear any uniform by the Senate.”
According to the human rights lawyer, the Senate should rather invite the Ministry of Finance and not the CGC if it wanted to challenge the Customs’ policy on payment of exercise duties.
The Senate had on Thursday walked out Ali from its chamber over his refusal to be properly kitted in the service uniform of the customs.
The Senate insisted he return to the chamber in uniform on Wednesday March 22 at 10am prompt.
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