By ACHADU GABRIEL, Kaduna
Nigeria Customs Services (NCS), under Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), has landed itself in aserious mess for failure to pay eight years salary arrears, benefits and others entitlements estimated at over N50 million, to one Comptroller Abdullahi Bello Gusau.
Compt. Gusau, according to documents made available to Journalists in Kaduna, had sometime, in 2010, challenged Nigeria Customs Services in Federal High Court Abuja, over unlawful premature retirement from the service.
The Compt, through his Counsel, Barr. G. T Afolabi, of Olugbenga and Associates, dragged the matter to Appeal Court, and obtained verdict in his favour in July, 2014.
The case also scaled up to Supreme Court of Nigeria, which affirmed the judgment of Appeal Court, and directed that Compt Bello Gusau be reinstated back to service and his entitlements paid in full.
Although Gusau was called back to office after the Appeal Court judgment in 2014, but was treated as contract staff.
Worse still, his monthly salary was stopped two months after his resumption when his counsel demanded that full implementation of the Appeal Court judgment be complied.
Apparently provoked, the NCS went to Supreme Court of Nigeria and contested the judgment, but the Apex court, in April, 7, 2017, affirmed the court of Appeal judgement of July, 2014, including consequential orders as contained therein, mandating the CGC of NCS, to reinstate Compt Gusau, but same was ignored.
The affirmation of the apex court which was handed down by Justice Ejembi Eko, in Abuja, also made declarations that the purported retirement of the plaintiff (Compt Gusau), by the 2nd defendant (NCS) is unlawful, malicious, irregular and fragrant violation of the plaintiff rights of employment until the mandatory retirement age.
But hitherto, the Supreme Court affirmation also has not been complied with, nine months after it was passed, as the orders mandating NCS and CGC, to reinstate Compt Gusau, was disregarded.
Supreme Courts’ 5-man panel of Justices, headed by CJN, Walter S.N Onnoghen, also made an order affirming Appeal Court judgement, adding that the purported retirement of the plaintiff by 1st and 2nd defendant’s public notice, was unlawful.
“The Court therefore ordered the defendant to allow Compt. Gusau, to resume work and also maintain his positions as Comptroller of Customs, and be paid all his salaries, benefits and emoluments, and enjoy his lawful promotions.”
According to documents made available to journalists in Kaduna, the affirmed judgement and orders of the supreme court of Nigeria were duly served on the CG of Customs on the 10th,13th, and 21st days of April, 2017, respectively, and also the acknowledged receipts, but same were not complied with.
Till the time of filing this report, Customs was yet to formalise the reinstatement and promotion of Compt Gusau by way of serving him with reinstatement letter and letter of promotions, and subsequent decoration of his new ranks.
Similarly, the salary arrears, emoluments and other entitlements, estimated at over N50 million have also not been paid to Compt Gusau, till date.
The Supreme Court has already reinstated Compt Abdullahi Bello Gusau in its judgment of April 2017, which means the status quo is restored and maintained, therefore the NCS is expected to formalize the reinstatement, promotion and payment.
But instead of formalizing the reinstatement and promotions, ACG, Abbas, unilaterally wrote and signed purported retirement letter to serve Compt Gusau, contrary to the judgment and consequential orders of Supreme court of Nigeria.
“It’s pertinent to note that Customs or NCS board has no power or legal mandate to retire or write retirement letter to Compt Gusau or any senior customs officer, unless on ground of disciplinary matters or gross professional misconduct, in accordance with section 3-4 of public service rules. The NCS can only write letter of notification for retirement as a reminder to officers due for it.
“Several correspondence written and served the CG from relevant ministries and agencies to comply were equally ignored.
Basically, a judgment creditor is entitled to have the benefit of the fruits of his judgment,” his counsel informed.
When contacted to verify authenticity of allegations, the victim, Compt Gusau confirmed that the Supreme Court judgment and consequential orders have not been complied with currently.
Comptroller Bello Gusau spent more than nine years on Comptroller Rank by year 2009 without promotion to the next Rank Contrary to the Scheme of Service for Customs Service which stated that a Comptroller who spends four years on the substantive rank is eligible for promotion to the next Level of ACG rank.
It is pertinent to note that Comptroller Bello Gusau ‘s many junior Colleagues who came from the same geographical location with him were promoted to ACG Level 16 and DCG Level 17 Consolidated respectively and Compt Gusau was denied unjustly.