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Reps fault disengagement of customs official over alleged poor sight

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Nigeria Customs Service

•To probe reported molestation of military officials, varsity students
The House of Representatives has faulted the authorities of the Nigeria Custom Service (NCS) over the retirement of an Assistant Comptroller of Custom, David Olusegun Abaje, for an alleged poor sight.

Chairman of its Committee on Public Petition, Uzoma Nkem-Abonta, ruling on a petition by the victim, said the agency erred since there was no evidence to suggest that Abaje could not perform his duties due to his failing sight.

He maintained that the decision smacked of malice and witch-hunt in view of the fact that affected official had twice been sacked in the past. First in 2011 and later in 2013 for same health reason.

Interrogating the NCS legal team led by U.A Lawal, the panel chair noted that eye defect was a common health challenge among Nigerians, adding that it should not be used as a yardstick for disengagement, as no extant low approves disengagement without evidence or fair hearing.

He said: “Assuming he has problems with the eyes, would that be enough to retire him? Are you saying the blind should not work in Nigeria? If you say you retire him because he cannot see with one eye, then you have no issue.

“ Some people wear eye glasses from 10 years, others do not wear glasses till 90 years. This cannot be a basis to punish him. So, I hereby rule that you have to reinstate him, and pay him all his entitlements, promote him till he attains retirement age. “

Abaje had told the committee that he was compulsorily retired from service in 2013, adding that he ought to have attained the rank of a Deputy Comptroller of Custom if he were not “unjustly” retired.

Acknowledging that he had an eye surgery on one of his eyes, the victim said the development did not in anyway affect his performance, as he could still “inspect, read very well and write with it.”

Abaje, therefore, pleaded with the lawmakers to intervene so that he can be reinstated and allowed to gracefully retire by 0ctober 13 this year.

Meanwhile, the chamber is to investigate an alleged assault on some personnel of the Nigerian Air Force and students of the Osun State University.

In a motion, sponsored at the weekend during plenary by Oluwole Oke (PDP-Osun), the lawmakers resolved to summon the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar, to appear before the Committee on Air Force, chaired by Samson Okwu (PDP-Benue). A date for the hearing is, however, yet to be fixed.



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