Customs Officers Mandated To Declare Their Assets, As Buhari Stalls On His...

Customs Officers Mandated To Declare Their Assets, As Buhari Stalls On His Asset Declaration

By Ekemini Ekwere | News Reporter on November 1, 2015
Muhammadu Buhari Nigeria APC
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari attends the second day of the summit of G7 nations at Schloss Elmau on June 8, 2015 near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany | Sean Gallup/Getty Images

All serving officers in the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) have been mandated to declare their assets.

Accordingly, all officers from the first bar were asked to collect their asset declaration forms from their zonal offices with a view to making their acquisitions known to the top hierarchy of the NCS.

The Nation Newspaper reports that Sources within the NCS revealed that the service is also working with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to ensure that any false financial declaration is detected through the bank verification numbers (BVNs).

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According to the source, more heads will roll after the completion of the exercise.

5 Deputy Comptrollers Resign In Protest

According to a document obtained by The Trent, the five officials at the rank of deputy comptroller-general of the Customs Service tendered their resignation in a joint letter dated October 29 and addressed to the chairman, Nigerian Customs Service Board.

The one-page letter (see below) says that the top officials are resigning “unanimously and voluntarily” from the service. The officials are A. J. Atte, T. A. Musa, I. M. Mera, A. C. Nwosu, and A. A. Adewuyi (who was yet to sign the document).

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According to informed sources, who spoke to The Trent on the condition of anonymity, this decision is in protest of the “high-handedness” and “insecure leadership style” of the new customs boss, Colonel Hameed Ali (Rtd), an appointee of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Our investigations reveal that on resumption early September, Ali, a long-time loyalist of Buhari had posted the senior officials to zonal offices to work with assistant comptroller-generals of Customs. On their return, they were given letters instructing them to proceed on annual leave according to a schedule (see below).

According to our sources, the Nigerian Customs Service had six (6) deputy comptroller-generals of Customs when Ali, who is a retired army official and former military administrator of Kaduna State took over the headship of the agency. One of them had retired before today.

Our source tells us that on assumption, Colonel Ali made no effort to work with the senior brass of the Customs Services, preferring instead to sideline them and engage his cronies, who have long retired from the service as consultants. This attitude of the new Customs boss led to further discontent within the service.

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The decision by Buhari to appoint a long-time loyalist to head the Customs service has been questioned for its legality. A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Ozekhome had condemned President Muhammadu Buhari for appointing a non-customs officials to head the service. He said that the appointment was “illegal and contrary to section 3:11:1 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria official gazette (2002), as Ali is a retired soldier and not a product of the customs”.

In the wake of Ali’s appointments, there were news reports that Nigeria could be expelled from World Customs Organisation (WCO) because his appointment failed to comply with the rules of the organisation.

In September, Ifeanyichukwu Okonkwo, an activist had filed a suit at the Federal High Court Umuahia, Abia state challenging the constitutionality of the appointment of Ali as the Customs boss by Buhari.

Damage Control

Following the report by The Trent that five deputy comptroller-generals of the Nigerian Customs Service had resigned in protest over alleged “high-handedness” and “insecure leadership style” of the new customs boss, Colonel Hameed Ali, the Customs has issued a press statement claiming that the senior officers were part of thirty four (34) senior customs officers who had been retired as part of a “re-organisation of the service”.

The statement, which was signed by Wale Adeniyi, the Customs public relations officer was sent to The Trent on Friday, October 30, 2015 stated that the five deputy comptroller-generals, were part of a group of 34 senior officers of the service who were earmarked for immediate compulsory retirement.

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The statement by the Customs is viewed as a face-saving measure and an after-thought by Colonel Ali because as at October 29, the 5 top officials of the Service had been scheduled for their annual leave with dates running into the future. Officials earmarked for retirement are sent on terminal leave not annual leave. The document obtained by The Trent, shows that Ali personally signed the leave schedule. (See below)

Hattip: Newswires. Additional reporting by Ephraim Adiele


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