By Patience Danjuma
The feud between the Senate and Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service, Hameed Ali resurfaced yesterday in Abuja.
Trouble started when the Senate Ad- hoc Committee on Economic Waste in Nigeria visited the Customs Headquarters in Abuja as part of its oversight functions.
The drama was triggered by remarks made by Chairman of the Committee, Senator Dino Melaye, over the way the Senate delegation was received by the Customs high command.
Melaye said by protocol, the Customs chief was expected to come down from his office to welcome the committee members into the Custom premises.
The Kogi West lawmaker said it was a breach of protocol for the Customs CG to casually meet the delegation at the conference room.
Melaye said the practice of ushering in the Senate delegation has been the practice with statutory bodies like Customs, Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Nigeria Prisons Service (NPS) and others over the years.
He wondered why such established etiquette, which was the norm under previous Customs chiefs, was not accorded the committee by Ali.
Melaye said: “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.
“That has 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 and others, making us to wonder why it was 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.”
The Customs CG told the Senate delegation that the agency has its own protocol that is different from other public establishments.
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.”