The comptroller-general of the Nigeria customs service (NCS), Col. Hameed Ali, (rtd) has told the upper chamber of the national assembly that he was not appointed to be “wearing uniform”.
“I was not appointed comptroller-general to wear uniform,” he told TVC in an interview.
“Does uniform work or the person behind the uniform? If we suspect that smuggled items are taken into your own house, we have a right to condone that house and search. Am I doing my job or not? I think that should worry the national assembly.”
Since September, 2015 when President Muhammadu Buhari appointed him to lead the agency, Ali has not worn customs uniform for once.
Last month when he appeared before the senate committee on customs and excise duties, he was asked to explain his reason for carrying on his duties in civilian attire.
“Mr CG, this committee will like to know the reason why you are still in mufti close to two years after your appointment as the comptroller-general of Nigeria Custom Service,” Obinna Ogba, a senator from Ebonyi central, had asked.
In his response, Ali explained that his reason for not wearing the uniform is because he is a retired army officer.
He said it was against military tradition for him to wear the uniform of another organisation.
After a question and answer session, Hope Uzodinma, chairman of the committee, jocularly told Ali: “We are releasing you to go and sew your uniform.”
However, the issue of uniform resurfaced at the red chamber on Thursday. The senate had summoned Ali over the plan to set aside the directive of the lawmakers not to seize vehicles without paid duty.
Dino Melaye, senator representing Kogi west, who moved a motion on the issue, had insisted that Ali must appear in uniform.
“The senate will take a resolution and an agency of government will have the temerity, will have the guts, the strength to blatantly disregard the Nigerian senate. It is a very dark day for democracy,” he had said.
“I’m a member of the customs committee. I want to educate some of us, the position of CGC has a rank…. When he appeared before the committee, I asked why he does not wear uniform, and he said uniformed men don’t wear uniform twice.
“I reminded him that Haladu Hananiya retired as a general but when he was appointed as the corps marshal of the FRSC, he proudly wore the uniform of FRSC.
“The senate has resolved that we invite the CGC to appear in plenary with his uniform to either justify or falsify this statement