The Comptroller-General of Customs, retired Col. Hameed Ali, says he will not honour the invitation of the Senate on Wednesday.
Ali told State House correspondents after a closed-door meeting in the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Tuesday, that his position was informed by the fact that the case is in court.
He said that since the matter was already in court, it would amount to contempt of court for him to appear before the upper chamber of the National Assembly as it had demanded.
“The case is in court already. Somebody has sued us. I have gotten my writ of summons and they said status quo ante should remain; which means nothing should be done until the court makes a pronouncement.
A private individual sued all of us; he wants an interpretation of the section that is in contention.
I don’t want to talk so that I am not held in contempt of court,’’ Ali said.
The Senate last Thursday turned back the comptroller-general for not appearing in Customs uniform.
Senators, by a voice vote, had directed him to return to the National Assembly on Wednesday, March 22, in proper uniform designated for the office of Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service.
The decision of the Senate followed a motion by Senator George Sekibo (PDP, Rivers East), who relied on Section 89 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and seconded by Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu.
Earlier, in his answer to the Senators, Ali had told them that he had no knowledge of any law compelling him to wear uniform.
The senators want him to explain his action on the implementation of the controversial policy on payment of duty for old vehicles.
An Abuja-based lawyer Mohammed Ibrahim approached a Federal High Court in Abuja, seeking an order to restrain the National Assembly from compelling Ali from wearing uniform.
Ibrahim made copies of the process available to newsmen on Tuesday.
The suit listed other defendants to include the Comptroller-General of NCS, the NCS, the Senate and the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF).
The plaintiff is seeking a declaration of the court that the oversight functions of the National Assembly did not extend to compelling, mandating and enforcing the first defendant to wear uniform before performing his duties.
He is also seeking the court to declare that the first defendant, who is not a commissioned officer of the NCS, is not mandated by law to wear the service’s uniform.
Ibrahim further asked the court to declare if Ali’s appointment made pursuant to Sections 5 and 171 of the Constitution could be subjected to the provision of Customs and Excise Management Act or any other law.
The plaintiff, therefore, urged the court to decide whether the first defendant’s appointment, having been made pursuant to the provisions of the constitution, could be subjected to the provisions of other laws.
He also asked the court to explain whether there was any legal provision that prescribed the wearing of uniform as a condition precedent by the first defendant in view of his appointment under Section 171 of the constitution.
He asked the court to decide whether the first defendant, not being commissioned custom officer, could be mandated to wear the service’s uniform for the performance of the duties of Comptroller-General.
The plaintiff further urged the court to decide whether every directive or power hitherto exercised by the first defendant while not in uniform was null and void.
Ibrahim had also asked the court to decide whether, in view of Section 88 (1) of the constitution, the senate could summon the first defendant having not published a resolution to that effect.
The defendants are mandated to, within 30 days after service of the originating summons on them appear in court