Customs suspends controversial vehicle duties
Senate threatens to arrest comptroller general for disobeying summons
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has suspended the implementation of its policy for duty payments on old vehicles.The Acting Public Relations Officer of the NCS, Joseph Attah, said yesterday in Abuja that the management of the Customs Service had directed that the exercise be put on hold and expressed its readiness to engage the Senate on further discussion.
Meanwhile, the Senate yesterday resolved to compel the Comptroller General, Hameed Ali, to comply with its earlier resolution, which directed Ali to appear at its plenary in uniform to explain the new policy.
Adopting a motion sponsored by Senator George Sekibo (PDP, Rivers West), and seconded by Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, the Senate asked Ali to be in its chamber today.
Sekibo in raising his motion relied on the provisions of section 89 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as amended.The motion followed the failure of the Ali to appear before the Senate yesterday as invited by the Upper Chamber.
The decision of the Senate came at the time Ali had written the Senate twice, explaining that he would be unable to honour the invitation to appear during the plenary on Wednesday.
In the first letter signed by a staff of the NCS, Ali said that the date coincided with the monthly management meeting of the Customs Service.The letter angered the senators, who viewed it as an affront on the institution and therefore restated their stance that Ali should appear yesterday.
The decision of the Senate apparently prompted the second letter from the CG in which he pleaded for an extension of date because he was bereaved.
However, when the second letter was read on the floor of the Senate yesterday as the reason for the CG’s absence, many of the senators were further infuriated.
Senator Kabir Marafa said that it was wrong for a military officer, who should be grounded in discipline to disrespect the institution of the Senate.
Sekibo said that the matter had moved beyond the position of invitation and was now a constitutional matter.
Citing Section 89 of the constitution, Sekibo said that it was now the duty of the Senate to direct the CG to honour the invitation.But an attempt by the Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Olusola Adeyeye, to amend the motion on the arrest warrant was shouted down by the lawmakers, who chanted “No.”