The newly appointed Comptroller General of Custom, Col. Hamid Ali, may have rejected the appointment to be custom boss by President Muhammadu Buhari. He is the only person not to have reported and sworn in after president Buhari announced his appointment. All the rest have reported.
The new Comptroller-General of Nigerian Customs Service retired Col. Hameed Ali is yet to assume duty one week after he was appointed to the post by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Col Ali was appointed on Thursday along with Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir David Lawal, Chief of Staff Abba Kyari, Comptroller-General, Nigerian Immigration Service Kure Martin Abeshi, and two others with effect from August 27.
The others have since taken their oath of office and assumed duties but Col Ali is yet to show up in his new place of work.
Sources said the former military governor of Kaduna State is not keen in taking up the appointment.
In fact, one of our sources said on the day his appointment was announced, the retired army officer drove out of Abuja and returned to his home in Kaduna for unknown reasons.
Col Ali has been Buhari’s Chief of Staff for nearly five years up till the time he won the election and took office as president.
He and others that had worked for Buhari either as a retired army general or a candidate running for office have stayed around him even when he had moved into Aso Rock Presidential Villa.
Speculations making the rounds in Abuja suggest that Hameed Ali may have turned down the offer.
“The colonel was not keen to take charge as customs boss because he was not interested in the job. He went to the customs headquarters in Zone 3, Abuja on Friday and since then he hasn’t returned.”
The source said Col. Ali was also at the State House, Abuja on Tuesday and had met with the President but the outcome of the meeting was not made known.
The source said the inability of the new customs chief to assume work has jolted the presidency and top party officials adding that highly placed individuals including Ali’s contemporaries had met to discuss the matter.
They may likely prevail on him to accept the job though the mission will not be an easy task, the source said.
Meanwhile a situation of uncertainty prevails at the Customs headquarters in Abuja.
Sources said there are some agitations both in the NSC and the World Customs Organisation (WCO), the body that oversees the customs services worldwide over the appointment of non-custom officer to head the organisation by the Nigerian authorities.
The WCO is a global centre of customs expertise and plays a leading role in the discussion, development, promotion and implementation of modern customs systems and procedures.
Some officers who spoke to Daily Trust said the appointment of non-customs official to head the office will bring many complications.
Sources said many names were sent to President Buhari but he turned them down and opted for an outsider to head the organisation because majority of them are not clean enough from their records.
The most senior officer, Deputy Comptroller-General (DCG), John Atte, has however taken over in acting capacity.
Reacting to Col. Ali’s appointment outside the service, some stakeholders had referred to section 3.11:1 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Official Gazette No 24 Vol. 89 of March 25, 2002, and administrative publication which states that the choice of the Comptroller-General of Customs shall be by appointment of a suitable Deputy Comptroller-General of Customs (General Duty).
The Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) obtained from the Customs website does not address issues on the appointment of a CG, rather it speaks on the composition of the Customs Board Members.
Some officers who spoke with Daily Trust at the headquarters in confidence yesterday confirmed that Col. Ali was yet to resume as at the close of work yesterday.
Another officer said, “We don’t really know. Nobody can tell what is really the reason why he is not here. Maybe the big officers know but for the junior staff whatever they tell you may be a rumour. Some even joked that he is yet to resume because his uniform is not yet ready.”
Speaking on whether the delay in his resumption is causing a shutdown of the service, an officer said before they announced his appointment, there was a leader holding brief so all other activities in the service continue until he resumes.
“We have a leader. Somebody is acting on behalf of him and he is definitely the leader now,” the officer noted.
Although there is yet to be an official statement on his resumption at the service, an official in the Public Relations Unit told Daily Trust that the service will issue a statement once the new customs chief resumes.
He noted that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation should be consulted on his resumption since that is the office that handles appointment issues.
Efforts by our reporter to reach the new customs boss failed as he did not pick calls neither did he reply the text messages sent to him.