Man drags Buhari to court over Ali’s appointment as Customs boss

CG Customs Hameed Ali

President Muhammadu Buhari and Finance Minister have been dragged before a federal high court in Abuja over an alleged unlawful appointment of retired Colonel Hameed Ibrahim Ali as Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).

Plaintiff in the case, Ifeanyichukwu Okonkwo, an importer of goods and services based in Onitsha, Anambra State is asking the court to reverse Ali’s appointment 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 Col. Ali (rtd) as the Chief Executive Officer of the Customs.

Plaintiff further prayed the court to issue another order restraining Ali 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 an 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.

He 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 3rd Defendant.

A declaration that there is no enabling law made by the National Assembly as the authority for the appointment of Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (rtd) as the new Comptroller General, Nigeria Customs Service, his appointment by the President is unconstitutional, null and void.

“A declaration that the purported press release by Mr. Femi Adesina an aide of President Muhammadu Buhari is without due regard to Civil Service Rules, but a public relations affairs. The said Mr. Femi Adesina, is an imposter not being the Minister of Finance of the Federal Government.

“A declaration that an appointment to the office of Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service shall not be made except with the recommendation of the Minister of Finance, and among Deputy Comptroller Generals, Assistant Comptroller Generals and or Controllers, in the Nigerian Customs Service of the Federation.

“A declaration that the 4th Defendant a retired Colonel in the Nigerian Army is above sixty (60) years of age, a pensioner is not eligible for appointment into the Federal Civil Service regarding the Nigeria Customs Service.”

In his statement of claims, plaintiff claimed to be a major importer, tax payer and anti-corruption activist whose business transactions are being hindered by the alleged unlawful, illegal and un-constitutional appointment of the ex Army Officer into the office of the Customs Comptroller General.

He asserted that Col. Ali lacked the training and technical know-how on the statutory functions of the customs to which he was illegally and un-constitutionally appointed to head as the Comptroller General.

Besides, 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.

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