Ozekhome, group slam Buhari over customs’ boss appointment

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A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mike Ozekhome, has berated President Muhammadu Buhari for appointing Col. Hameed Ali (retd.) as the new Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service.

This is just as the Ijaw National Congress accused the President of pursuing a northern agenda through his “lopsided” appointments.

Ozekhome said in a statement that Buhari’s appointment of a retired soldier to head a paramilitary institution was illegal.

The senior advocate described as nonsensical claims that Buhari appointed a former soldier to head the Customs because he could not find any Customs officer with integrity to head the service.

He said, “The appointment of Hameed Ali has, particularly, raised serious issues of propriety, having been brought in from outside the customs service. By Section 3:11:1 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria official gazette No 24, vol 89, dated March 25, 2002, the choice of the CG of Customs shall be by appointment of a suitable Deputy Comptroller-General of Customs.

“Some unrepentant apologists have already argued, surprisingly, that a gazette is not a law, and so President Buhari was not obliged to follow the extant gazette in appointing one of the six serving Deputy Comptrollers-General of Customs as the CG.

“They even argue, tongue in cheek, that he could not find an officer amongst the six DCGs that is incorruptible. Jesus! Why not dissolve the entire Customs then and set up a fresh one?”

He said such an appointment was synonymous with military rule and called on Buhari to realise that Nigeria is now practising democracy.

Ozekhome, who was a delegate to the last National Conference, said Buhari would be setting a bad precedence if he did not reverse the appointment.

He added, “In any event, even if past governments did wrong in bringing in ‘outsiders’ to head Customs, thus demoralising the psyche of career officers, who have spent their lives serving the nation, hoping to rise to the zenith of their careers, why should President Buhari’s government which promised change, repeat same?

“Is it not meant to be change from past bad habits, actions, inactions, maladministration, etc? Was that not why Nigerians voted for him and against Goodluck Jonathan’s government?”

Meanwhile, the Ijaw National Congress has expressed deep concerns over the leadership style of Buhari, which according to them, confers undue advantages to a particular section of the country at the expense of other regions, especially in the areas of appointments as well as the war against corruption.

The acting president of the association, Mr. Charles Ambaiowei, while commenting on the state of the nation, noted that Buhari’s appointments so far showed a brazen breach of the federal character.

The group alleged that Buhari appointed an ‘outsider’ to head Customs to prevent a Niger Delta man, who was next in line, to assume the office of CG.

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