Appoint A Career Custom Officer – Group Urges President Tinubu

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A non-governmental organization, Leadership Integrity Forum has called on President Ahmed Tinubu to appoint a career officer from the service not below the rank of Assistant-Comptroller General.

The NGO thorough a statement by its Communication Manager, Mr. Clement Adesanya argues that the appointment is necessary to address what they term the “Sit Tight Syndrome” within the agency, which they believe obstructs progress, perpetuates fiscal stagnation, and hampers the implementation of the new Nigeria Customs Service Act.

In a press statement issued to journalists on Wednesday, the Leadership Integrity Forum emphasizes the need for immediate action to rectify the situation and ensure a smooth transition in line with the new legislation. The recently signed Nigeria Customs Service Bill, enacted under former President Major-General Muhammadu Buhari, introduced crucial reforms that prioritize the appointment of qualified individuals to key positions within the agency.

The statement cites Section 14(1)(a) of the Act, which explicitly states that “The President shall appoint a career officer from the service not below the rank of Assistant-Comptroller General (who shall be responsible for the overall management of the service) and be accountable for all revenue collections and all expenditures made under this Act.” It also highlights various functions and appointment provisions outlined in sections 14 (b), (c), (e), (f), (g), and (h) aimed at ensuring effective leadership within the Customs Service.

“However, despite the enactment of the new legislation, the former Comptroller-General, Colonel Hameed Ali (rtd), who does not originate from the Nigeria Customs Service as a career officer, has refused to step down from the position. This refusal has hindered the proper functioning and administration of the Act, leaving numerous tasks unfinished and unattended”.

The Leadership Integrity Forum contends that the law necessitates the immediate transfer of the office to a career officer appointed in accordance with Section 14(1) of the Nigeria Customs Act 2023. They argue that Colonel Hameed Ali should adhere to the law and step down since he was appointed under the previous administration.

The NGO emphasizes that the Nigeria Customs Service operates within the realm of the rule of law and not force, which was the driving force behind the enactment of the new Act. They call for the former Comptroller-General to be appropriately advised and for a smooth transition of administrative responsibilities in line with the reformed Customs Service. This, they believe, will facilitate the implementation of new policies aimed at promoting economic trade.

The Leadership Integrity Forum further highlights the critical issue of the “Sit Tight Syndrome” within the Nigeria Customs Service. As the government prioritizes economic recovery and revenue enhancement, addressing this syndrome becomes imperative to ensure the effective implementation of the new Act. Nigerians are eagerly awaiting action from the government to rectify this anomaly and pave the way for a new era in customs administration.

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