• Says Ali can’t appear before senators, cites court case as APC intervenes
By Iheanacho Nwosu, Romanus Ugwu and Fred Itua, Abuja
Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has written to the Senate, on the upper legislative chamber’s face-off with Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Services (NCS), Col. Hameed Ali (retd).
In the letter, which was delivered to the Clerk to the National Assembly, Mohammed Sani Omololu, Malami told Senate Ali cannot appear before it because the issue is now before a court of law.
Already, a legal practitioner, Mohammed Ibrahim, has approached a Federal High Court, Abuja, to restrain the National Assembly from compelling Ali, to put on the NCS uniform when he appears before the Senate.
Although the letter was shielded from the media, Daily Sun, however, learnt that Malami is asking Senate to “stay action, pending the determination of the suit before the court.”
Reacting to the development, yesterday, Senate spokesman, Abdullahi Sabi insisted no court can stop the chamber from performing its duties or going ahead with its proceedings.
Regardless, at the Presidential Villa, Ali, yesterday, said he will not appear before the Senate today.
He was seen emerging from the Mosque at the Presidential Villa, beside President Muhammadu Buhari’s office, where he observed the 4:00pm prayer, yesterday.
It was not clear if he was at the Villa to see president Buhari, who had left his office at the time Ali called.
“The case is in court, already. I have got my writ of summons and they said status quo should remain ante, which means nothing moves until the court makes a pronouncement. I don’t want to talk, so that I am not held for contempt of court,” Ali told State House Correspondents.
Meanwhile, in the originating summon between Mohammed Ibrahim of Alternate Legal Practioners, based in Abuja, and Ali, NCS, the National Assembly, Senate and the Attorney General, the plaintiff is seeking perpetual injunction against the upper legislative chamber from enforcing Ali to wear the Customs uniform.
Mohammed, in the suit, with number FHC/ABJ/CS/207/2017, asked the court to declare that Ali, not being “a commissioned officer of the NCS is not mandated by law to wear the Service uniform.”
He also wants the court to affirm “If the oversight functions of the National Assembly does not extend to compelling, mandating and enforcing the Comptroller General to appear before it in uniform.”
He posited that the “powers and functions of the Comptroller General of NCS can be exercised without wearing the uniform and that every directive, functions of powers, hitherto, exercised without the wearing of uniform can be declared null and void.”
Asked if the NCS is aware of the suit, Legal Adviser to Customs, Mr Tampi Wudapba, confirmed knowledge of it, but declined further explanations.
However, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has expressed readiness to wade into the lingering face-off between Senate and Ali.
The party’s National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, in a statement, said the National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun will lead a peace delegation to the National Assembly leadership.
“The APC has keenly observed the controversy that has trailed the invitation extended to the Ali by the Senate. The issues will be resolved in a manner that will be agreeable to all the parties involved,” he said.