The crisis between the Senate and Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, Hameed Ali, Monday, at the NCS headquarters in Abuja, reared its head following verbal attacks from both sides, this time, on protocol.
The verbal battle between the Senate and the Customs boss was triggered by remarks made by Senator Melaye, during the visit of the senate ad hoc committee on Economic Waste in the Nigeria Customs Service, 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.
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 a protocol was not accorded them by the incumbent Customs boss.
His words, “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”.
The Customs boss shocked the visiting team with these words, “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”, he stated.
With this ugly development, the usual group photograph, considered 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.
Members of the team were Senators Dino Melaye, Samuel Anyanwu, Gilbert Nnaji, Hamman Isah Misau and Babajide Omoworare.