The 2nd Vice-President, Nigerian Bar Association, Monday Ubani, has slammed embattled Comptroller General of Customs, Hameed Ali for refusing to obey the Senate by appearing before it in uniform.
Ubani said, although no law compelled the Customs CG to appear before the Senate in uniform, Ali must demonstrate discipline and respect for national institutions by wearing uniform.
Reacting to reports on how the Senate turned Ali away on Thursday after he appeared before them in traditional attire instead of his official apparel, the NBA VP said if Ali would not wear the uniform of the agency he headed, the Presidency should reconsider his appointment.
Ubani said, “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 Rtd 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.
“We were not consulted when he was appointed. Those who have the power to hire reserve the power to fire.”
Ubani added, “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 babariga.
“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)’.”