The Customs Comptroller General, Col. Hameed Ali (retd), has confirmed total blockage of access to frivolous waivers, reduced or non-payment of duties on imported items by highly placed Nigerians and influential politicians.
Ali, while explaining that he would not honour the Senate invitation on Wednesday due to a writ of summons sent to his office by court, said the directive on the collection of duties on imported cars has been misinterpreted by Nigerians as the policy was in line with the extant laws guiding the operations of the service.
He said as one of the defendants in a case filed at the Federal High Court, Abuja, by a lawyer, Barr. Mohammed Ibrahim, on his status as a mufti-wearing Customs Comptroller General, it would be subjudice for him to appear before the Senate which has compelled him to appear in the Customs uniform.
Ali made these disclosures on Tuesday in Abuja at an interactive session with the media.
The originating summons, which has the National Assembly and the Attorney General of the Federation as defendants seek, among many others, a clarification on “whether the appointment of Ali by the President having been made pursuant to Sections 5 and 171 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) can be subjected to the provisions of the Customs and Excise Act or any other law; whether there is any legal provision that prescribes the wearing of uniform as a condition precedent by the 1st defendant (Ali) in view of his appointment under Section 171 of the 1999 Constitution (as emended).
He said it was the opinion of his lawyers and that of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Federation it would be subjudice for him to appear before the Senate on the pending issues before them which also form the fulcrum of the case before the court.
“Based on the advice from lawyers and briefing from the Office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice who is also a party in the suit, I won’t be appearing before the Senate tomorrow until the court decides otherwise.”
Speaking on why he insisted that all duties must be paid without giving undue advantage to highly placed businessmen and influential Nigerians as it was the case in the past, Ali said the law is clear on what should be paid by these persons who mostly import exotic cars and luxury goods with the belief that they can always get waivers due to their status.
He said many of such cases have been stopped and the items impounded if the affected importers decline to pay appropriate duties.