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How Customs Boss Humiliates Sen. Melaye, 4 Others | The Precision

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The crisis between the Senate and Comptroller
General of Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, Col Hameed Ali (retd), reared
its head yesterday, following verbal attacks from both sides, this time,
on etiquette.

This time, the location was not the Senate building or premises but
Wuse Zone 3, Customs Headquarters in Abuja. The verbal exchanges took
place during the visit of the Senator Dino Melaye (APC, Kogi West)-led
Senate Ad-hoc Committee on Economic Waste in the Nigeria Customs Service
to the NCS office.

The fight between the Senate and the Customs boss was triggered by
remarks made by Senator Melaye that the Customs C-G, by way of protocol,
ought to have come down from his office to welcome and usher the
committee members into the premises and not just meeting them at the
conference room. Senator Melaye, who noted that the protocol and
practice had been that statutory bodies such as Customs, Immigration,
Prisons, etc, over the years come down to welcome them, wondered why
such etiquette was not accorded them by the incumbent Customs boss.

Melaye to Hameed Ali Melaye said:  “Before reading the prepared
speech of the committee, let me make this small remarks on what we have
just observed here in form of breach of protocols. “Mr C-G, rather than
meeting us here at the conference room by way of courtesy, you were
supposed to have met us at the ground floor on arrival into the
premises.

“That had been the practice of statutory bodies headed by chief
executive officers like you. Relevant Senate committees have over the
years been accorded this by bosses of Immigration Service, Prison
Service etc, making us to wonder why it is not so here today under your
leadership.

“Therefore, before proceeding further, on account of this
observation, we want the Customs management to know that the presence of
this committee before it implies that the Senate itself is before it to
put things in order as regards the economic waste taking place in the
Customs Service, requiring the seriousness it deserves from you and the
entire management. If this thing happens next time, we will take a walk
out.”

Following his comments, the atmosphere was already charged, just as
Senator Melaye further harassed the Customs top management officers by
declaring that the committee’s meeting with them was more or less that
of the Senate by hitting the gavel on the table before him to declare
the meeting open.

After hitting the gavel on the table, Melaye then read a prepared
speech where he marshalled out how the committee would carry out its
investigation on economic waste in Customs Service. But after the
speech, the senators who may have invited trouble, got more than they
bargained for.

Ali replies, shocks senators

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Responding to Melaye’s earlier remarks, the Customs boss told the
committee that Customs has its own protocols which are quite different
from other public establishments, insisting that the agency would not
allow itself to be dictated to on matters of etiquette or protocol. Col.
Ali said:  “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.

“So, there is no breach of protocol for not coming down to welcome
you since appropriate officers have been assigned to do so. Our protocol
is our protocol and should be allowed to be.

“In fact, by way of etiquette, it is the committee that is supposed
to come to my office first on arrival and not just coming straight to
the conference room.  Let me state clearly that we in the Nigeria
Customs Service are servants of the people. We believe in Nigeria and
working with others to make it great without being railroaded in anyway.

“Personally, I took this job because of my commitment to serve this
country selflessly, having earlier done so in the military. So, nobody
can tell me that am not a committed Nigerian. On your assignment you
called economic waste, we shall cooperate with you to unearth whatever
you want to unearth and effect any correction if there is any.”

Ali shuns group photograph, walks out on senators

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With this development, the usual group photograph which is a
tradition was, however, jettisoned as the Senate Committee members
refused having the photograph with the top management of Customs, a
development that further got the committee members bruised by the
Customs C-G who apparently out of annoyance, walked out of the visitors
from the premises by using his convoy to block them from leaving the
place before him.

While the Customs C-G left the Customs Headquarters at about 2:15pm
with his siren-blaring convoy, humiliated members of the Senate
committee left at about 2:20pm after being held up in their bus for
about 15 minutes by the Customs C-G’s convoy stationed at the exit gate
immediately after the unpalatable encounter at the conference room.

Senators, who suffered the humiliation along with Senator Melaye were
Samuel Anyanwu (PDP Imo East); Gilbert Nnaji (PDP, Enugu East); Hamman
Isah Misau (APC Bauchi Central) and Babajide Omoworare (APC, Osun East).

It would be recalled that the Customs C-G, prior to yesterday’s
encounter with the Committee, had had a running battle with the entire
Senate between 2016 and early 2017 over his mode of dressing. It would
also be recalled that while the Customs boss has been carrying out his
duties in mufti since 2015 after appointment, the Senate had asked him
to appear in uniform by ordering him to do so last year in plenary, but
Ali stood his ground by appearing in mufti. (Vanguard)

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