Hamid Ali Is Not The First To Head The Customs From Outside – Okoi Obono-Obla
The appointment of the former military administrator of Kaduna State and private chief of staff to General Muhammadu Buhari (as he then was) , Colonel Hamid Ali by President Muhammadu Buhari last week as the comptroller general of the Nigeria Customs Service.
One of my Facebook friends, Ojong Takon had challenged me to explain whether the appointment of Colonel Ali is constitutional in view of the fact that he was appointed from outside the customs service. I submit that he Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) does not contain the mode and procedure for the appointment of the Comptroller General of Customs. Rather the relevant legislation is the Custom and Excise Act, 2010.
The President is the Chief Executive of the Federation of Nigeria and by the plenitude of executive powers vested on him, he has the uttered discretion to make any appointment. There is no law that says that the Comptroller General of Customs must be a career customs officer or must be appointed from within the senior officer cadre of the customs service.
Accordingly, the President is not wrong to appoint somebody who is not an officer in the Nigeria Customs Service. There is a precedent in the country for the appointment of outsiders to head the Customs service. So President Buhari is not the first Head of State to appoint somebody outside the Nigeria Customs Service to head it. Nearly 21 years ago a Brigadier General Samuel Ango from the Nigerian Army was appointed Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service by former Head of State, late General Sani Abacha in 1994 from the Nigerian Army.
Dr. Haliru Mohammed Bello was appointed Comptroller General of Customs from outside the service in 1988 by the military regime of former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida He is a veterinary doctor by profession. He was comptroller general of customs from 1988 to 1994.
Also late Shehu Musa was appointed Comptroller General of Customs from the civil service in the 1970s. He was also the Secretary to the Government of the federation during the Shehu Shagari’s presidency.?
The Nigeria Customs Service has undergone numerous structural and institutional changes since 1891 when Mr. T.A Wall was appointed Director General by the British colonial administration of Customs for collection of Inland revenue in the Niger Coast Protectorate.
The name Customs and Excise emerged in 1922 when the first Comptroller of Customs and Excise, federation of Nigeria was appointed. It was changed to Customs and Excise Preventive Service in 1945. With the enactment of the Customs and Excise Management Act No. 55 of 1958 the a management board was introduced with the appointment of Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, E.P.C Langdon. He was succeeded by S. G. Quinton. The first Nigerian Chief Executive Officer appointed on attainment of Independence in 1960 was Ayodele Diyan.