- The Senate on Thursday, March 16, walked out Hameed Ali, the comptroller-general of customs, for refusing to appear in uniform
- While some Nigerians say his refusal to put on the uniform does not matter, the NBA chief insists it amounts to disrespect
The vice-president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Monday Ubani, has asked the embattled comptroller-general of the Nigerian Customs Service, Col Hameed Ali (rtd), to immediately reconsider his appointment for refusing to obey the Senate by appearing before it in uniform.
Ubani who produces ‘Know Your Right’, an enlightenment programme for Nigerians, said Ali must show discipline and respect for the Senate even though no law compels him to wear the uniform.
Ali was turned back from the Senate on Thursday, March 16, for refusing to honour the invitation of the legislators wearing the uniform of the service.
The Punch reports that Ubani is of the opinion that presidency should reconsider Ali’s appointment if he refuses to put on the uniform of the parastatal he heads.
“There are people who have retired in the military and later appointed to head sister agencies, and they still wore that agency’s uniform.
“Someone like that was retired General Hananiyyah, who was appointed as the FRSC boss and he still wore the FRSC uniform.
“The Senate is being insulted by Ali’s supposed indiscipline. This is democracy and the Senate, as the institution representing the people, deserves some level of obedience. The way forward is for Ali to behave himself and respect himself.
“Ali is saying he wants to get legal advice, but why didn’t he seek the advice when taking up the appointment? Why is it now that he knows that he, as a head of a uniformed agency, has to appear before the Senate in uniform that he is seeking legal advice?
“There is no known law that Ali has flouted, but wearing uniform simply shows discipline, identification and respect for the agency one is heading.
“If Ali has been appointed to head an agency that wears uniform, and he says it is not his tradition to wear such, decency and discipline demand him to simply reject the appointment, rather than become the subject of controversy.
“If he insists on his refusal, what precedent is he setting for customs officials? To me, it is more than the issue of law, it is about national ethos and discipline.
“The way forward is for the president, who appointed him, to take the decision. He is an appointee of the president, and the president should decide what is best for him since he is not comfortable to wear the customs uniform."
Continuing, Ubani said: “We were not consulted when he was appointed. Those who have the power to hire reserve the power to fire.”
“I have never heard that the head of the customs wears anything apart from the service uniform. It will look mischievous if the head of the customs wears caftan to review a parade.
“If someone knows he cannot conform to tradition of an institution, then he should leave. It is like a lawyer, who says he doesn’t want to wear wig and gown to the high court. Is that possible? You don’t expect a lawyer to go to court with babaringa.
“I think there is a law in customs Act that stipulates that uniform should be worn. Why would someone say because ‘I am a Colonel, I don’t want to wear uniform (of customs)’.”
Other Nigerians have reacted with some in favour of Ali while others support his dismissal.