The lawmakers resolved to ask Col. Ali to immediately throw in the towel in the interest of good governance and rule of law.
The Senate also came down hard on the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, for allegedly advising Col. Ali to shun its invitation.
The resolutions were made after about one hour 30 minutes closed session where issues concerning Col. Ali's appearance in uniform were discussed.
It was a charged session where senators took turns to criticise Col. Ali for not honouring the Senate's invitation. The lawmakers concluded that Col. Ali deliberately refused to honour the invitation to appear at the Senate using an “orchestrated pending suit as a cover”. Briefing by the Comptroller General of Customs and Excise in line with Senate resolution was listed in Order Paper as one of the businesses of the day.
Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu told the Senate after the closed session that a letter was received on Tuesday from the AGF, asking the Senate to stay action on Col. Ali's invitation due to a court process on the subject matter of the invitation.
Ekweremadu asked the Clerk, Nelson Ayewoh, to read the letter. The letter reads: “Re: Suit Number FHC/ABJ/ CS/207/2017. Mohammed Ibrahim (ESQ) Versus Col.Hameed Ibrahim Ali (rtd) and four others “I wish to formally intimate you that I am in receipt of a letter dated 20th March 2017 wherein I have been served with an originating summons in respect of the above subject matter (copy attached).
“The originating summons is seeking among other declarations “whether the oversight functions of the National Assembly extends to compelling and/ or giving directive to the first defendant to wear uniform.” “In line with the principles of rule of law, Court decisions or most importantly, the declarations sought have been deeply rooted in the constitutional provisions; I hold the view that this matter is sub-judice.
“In view of the above, it is the interest of justice and rule of law to stay all actions in this case until the constitutional issues raised in the matters are resolved by the law courts. I wish to further intimate you that as a defendant in the said suit, I intend to file processes and pursue it to a logical conclusion.
“Accept my warm regards.
Signed, Abubakar Malami, SAN Hon. Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.”
Ekweremadu threw the matter open for contributions. Senator Jude Uwajimogu, (Imo North) who was the first to contribute, noted that Nigeria operates a democracy and no arm of government could not stop another from doing its duty. He said that the matter had been laid to rest by the Supreme Court that no arm of government had the authority to stop the other from performing its constitutional duty.
Senator Dino Melaye (Kogi West) said President Muhammadu Buhari should choose between rule of law and Col. Ali.
Melaye said: “What we have from the AGF is an insult on the institution of the National assembly, especially on the Senate. Where did he derive his power to suggest to us or direct us on how we should carry out our function. This is the first time that any AGF will have the temerity to do so. “What we have is not a court order or injunction; it is a mere process. The integrity and the independence of the legislature is at stake. We have a rule which says that a matter already in court cannot be treated here, but not a matter that we are already treating and somebody went to court.
“The CG is not even fit to be the CG of Customs. The position of the CG is a rank and anybody holding that office is a public servant. The compulsory retirement age for the service is 60 years and Hameed Ali is far above 60 and therefore not qualified to hold that office.
“The President has a choice to choose between the rule of law and the CG. “If we begin to have interference with our rules it will not work and, therefore, no amount of blackmail will deter us from carrying out our duty.”