The Senate and the Comptroller General (CG) of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Hameed Ali, on Monday disagreed over protocol-related matters.
The disagreement was sequel to the visit of the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Waste in the Nigeria Customs Service to the Customs Headquarters, Abuja.
The lingering feud between the customs boss and the Senate resurfaced Monday as senators and the CG engaged in an argument bordering on failure of the latter to accord the former anticipated protocol.
The Chairman of the Committee, Dino Melaye, said the Customs CG should have personally received the committee members when they arrived the premises and not just meeting them at the conference room.
He said the protocol had been the practice with statutory bodies like Customs, Immigration, Prisons, etc, over the years and wondered why such etiquette was not accorded the committee.
“Before reading the prepared speech of the committee, let me make this small remark on what we have just observed here in form of breach of protocols.
“Mr CG, rather than meeting us here at the conference room by way of courtesy, you supposed to have met us at the ground floor on arrival into the premises,’’ Mr. Melaye said.
Reacting, the customs boss informed the committee that the NCS had its own protocols different from other public establishments and should not be dictated to on matters of etiquette or protocol.
“We have our own protocol as regards receiving visitors like you. I don’t need to come downstairs to receive you just as nobody in the Senate or House of Representatives has ever come out to receive us anytime we visit the National Assembly.
“Let me state clearly that in the Nigeria Customs Service we are servants of the people. We believe in Nigeria and working with others to make it great without being railroaded in anyway,” Mr. Ali said.
Senators and the customs boss first clashed in March 2017 after the lawmakers drove away Mr. Ali for appearing before them in mufti rather than in the uniform of his organisation.
The Senate had passed a resolution saying he must wear “appropriate” uniform to brief them over a controversial policy on duty payment.
“Coming was just one part of our invitation, another part is that you wear uniform. Why are you not in uniform?” Ike Ekweremadu, deputy president of the senate who presided over the sitting, asked Mr. Ali, after he observed protocols.
Mr. Ali then craved the indulgence of Mr. Ekweremadu to refer to the letter forwarded to him on Wednesday.
After reading the content of the letter, he said, “this letter did not connote that I should wear uniform.”
The customs boss later insisted that he was not appointed to the office to wear uniform.