Customs shuns court judgments on sacked Comptroller


Four months after the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Walter Nkanu Onnoghen ordered Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to reinstate a wrongfully sacked Comptroller of Custom back into the Service, NCS is yet to obey the unanimous decision of the apex court.

The same Court order was handed down in July 2014 by three justices of the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division that the NCS failed to comply with before the apex court affirmed the judgment of the lower court that reinstated Comptroller Abdullahi Bello Gusau into the Service.

Unhappy with the manner in which he was sacked, Gusau approached the high court but he lost. Dissatisfied with the judgment, he appealed to the court of Appeal which ordered his reinstatement July 2014 which was affirmed by the apex court April, 2017.

The appellate courts ordered the NCS to allow Gusau to resume back to work and maintain his position as Comptroller of NCS, to be paid all benefits and emoluments and also to enjoy his lawful promotions.
Comptroller Abdullahi Bello Gusau was January 1, 2000 promoted to the rank of Comptroller NCS, he remained on same rank before he was unlawfully sacked December 21, 2009 when he was purportedly retired from the services of the NCS.His mates then are now wearing the rank of Deputy Comptroller Generals (DCGs) while others have since retired as DCGs two years ago.

Apart from the CJN, other Justices of the Supreme Court that sat on the panel were Musa Dattijo Muhammad, Kudirat Motonmori Olatokunbo Kekere-Ekun, Ejembi Eko, who delivered the lead judgment and Sidi Dauda Bage.
Gusau was sacked December 21, 2009, exactly four days after he uncovered over N1.3 billion fraud via online audit through the Single Good Declaration (SGD) when he was Comptroller Post Clearance Audit ( PCA ) NCS HQ. The fraud was uncovered in only 20 SGD while hundreds of SGD were generated daily. He wrote a report on the fraud December 17th and was fired 4 days later on December 21, 2009.

In his letter dated 25 April 2017 personally signed by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, written to the Comptroller General (CG) NCS, Hamid Ali, the AGF advised the NCS to comply with the orders of the SC. Gusau’s lawyer Barrister Gbenga Afolabi has made available to newsmen several letters written to the CG, NCS, attaching the court judgments.

The apex court held that the relationship between Comptroller Abdullahi Bello Gusau and the NCS is not that of ordinary master-servant in which the servant holds the employment at the pleasure of the master because he holds the employment with statutory flavor.

The NCS had based its action on a 2009 NCS policy saying that it prematurely retired Gusau and others who had served over 10 years on the same rank.

Gusau said that the NCS did not act in good faith when the Service refused to obey valid Appeal Court and Supreme Court orders, even as he alleged injustice and victimisation.

When contacted on phone, NCS spokesman Joseph Attah said that “once there is a court verdict, NCS legal department will take a look at it with a view of recommending that the appropriate thing should be done and the Service will also do the appropriate thing”.

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