Why senate has no authority to invite Customs boss, Hameed Ali – Falana

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Following the senate’s invitation to the Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, Col Hameed Ali (rtd), foremost human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, has said the Upper Legislative Chamber has no lawful authority to do so.

The senate had recently invited the Customs Comptroller-General to justify his agency’s decision to compel all vehicle owners in the country to pay duties on their imported vehicles.

In a statement he signed, the lawyer maintained that Senate’s invitation extended to Ali was unconstitutional.

Citing the Court of Appeal decision in the case of El-rufai vs House of Representatives, where the court, relied on the case of Senate of the National Assembly vs Tony Momoh, Falana held that, “The Senate lacks the vires to summon the CGC on policy matters.

“Indeed the oversight power of either House of the National Assembly is not at large but limited by section 88 (2) of the Constitution.

“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 frowned at senate’s stance that the Custom boss must appear in 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 union 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.”