President Muhammadu Buhari and Finance Minister have been dragged before a Federal High Court in Abuja, over an alleged unlawful appointment of a retired army, Hameed Ibrahim Ali as Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service.
The plaintiff in the case, Ifeanyichukwu Okonkwo, an importer of goods and services based in Onitsha, Anambra State is asking the court to reverse the appointment of Ali, as customs boss on the ground that it violated sections 5, 147, 148, 151 and 171 of the 1999 constitution as amended.
He is also praying the court to issue an order stopping the Minister of Finance and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) from recognizing or further recognizing the ex-army chief as the Chief Executive of the Custom.
Plaintiff further prayed the court to issue another order restraining Col. Ali (rtd) from holding himself out or further parading himself as the Comptroller General of the Customs.
In the suit with No FHC/ABJ/CS/813/2015, Okonkwo is asking the court to interpret sections 5, 147, 148, 151 and 171 of the 1999 constitution and the Custom and Excise Management Act Cap 45 Volume 4 and the scheme of service for customs service as they affect the appointment of Comptroller General for the Nigeria Customs Service.
Specifically, plaintiff seeks court’s declaration that the President, under the community reading of all known relevant laws, has no power to have appointed Col. Ali (rtd) as the Customs Chief in August 2015.
Plaintiff also seeks among others: A declaration that the appointment of the 4th Defendant as the Comptroller General of the 3rd Defendant is not supported by any iota of law and a clear violation of the Public Service Rules application to the 3rdDefendant.
In his statement of claim, the plaintiff claimed to be a major importer, taxpayer and anti-corruption activist whose business transactions are being hindered by the alleged unlawful, illegal and unconstitutional appointment of the ex-Army Chief into the office of the Customs Comptroller General.
He averred that the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), who was sued for President Buhari exercises powers of ensuring that the 1999 constitution and other relevant laws are observed, secured and guaranteed to all Nigerian.
Plaintiff asserted that Ali lacked the training and technical know-how on the statutory functions of the customs, to which he was illegally and unconstitutionally appointed to head as the Comptroller General.
Besides, the plaintiff claimed that the unlawful appointment by the President has destroyed the career of many high-ranking well-trained Customs officers and that the action has posed a great danger to professionalism in the Customs Service.
He also asserted that as at August 27, 2015, when the purported appointment was made, there was no Minister of Finance in place and as such, the President could not have acted on the recommendation of the Minister as stipulated by law.
Meanwhile, the matter has been adjourned to February 14, 2016, for hearing by Justice Nnamdi Dimgba.
Other defendants in the suit are the Minister of Finance, Nigeria Customs Service, and Ibrahim Ali as 2nd, 3rd and 4th defendants respectively.