Apex court orders Custom boss re-instatement

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Stories by Vivian Okejeme Abuja

Supreme Court has ordered the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) to reinstate Comptroller Abdullahi Bello Gusau to the service. Th e apex court, in a unanimous decision, dismissed the appeal fi led by the NCS challenging the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Abuja which has since 2014 ordered the reinstatement of Comptroller Abdullahi Bello Gusau.

Apart from the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, other Justices of the Supreme Court that sat on the panel are Musa Dattijo Muhammad, Kudirat Motonmori Olatokunbo Kekere-Ekun, Ejembi Eko, who delivered the lead judgment and Sidi Dauda Bage.

On December 21, 2009, Gusau was sacked when he was denied entry into his offi ce on the basis that he was purportedly retired from the services of the NCS. Four days after he uncovered over N1.3 billion fraud via online audit through the Single Goods Declaration (SGD) when he was Comptroller Post Clearance Audit (PCA) NCS HQ.

Th e fraud was uncovered in only 20 SGD while hundreds of SGD were generated daily. He wrote a report on the fraud December 17th and was fi red 4 days later on December 21, 2009. Justice Ejembi Eko, who delivered the judgement, said the relationship between Gusau and the NCS is not that of ordinary master-servant in which the servant holds the employment at the pleasure of the master because he holds the employment with statutory fl avor. Th e NCS had based its action on a 2009 NCS policy saying that it prematurely retired Gusau and others who had served over 10 years on the same rank. Gusau rose to the rank of Comptroller from January 1, 2000. His mates then are now wearing the rank of Deputy Comptroller Generals (DCGs) while others have since retired as DCGs two years ago. Unhappy with the way and manner in which he was sacked, Comptroller Abdullahi Bello Gusau approached the high court but he lost.

Dissatisfied with the judgment, he appealed to the court of Appeal which ordered his reinstatement in 2014. Following the Appeal Court decision, the NCS appealed to the apex which held that the appeal lacks merit and should be dismissed. In a chat with news men immediately after the judgment, he said that “considering these discoveries, he should have been decorated with a national honour for outstanding performance and spectacular achievements, but instead surprisingly my permanent and pensionable appointment was terminated compulsorily along with 30 Comptrollers, while the NCS hide under the disguise of a purported reform that took place in 2009.”

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