Contrary to insinuations in some quarters that the Comptroller General of Customs, Hameed Ali snubbed an invitation to attend yesterday’s meeting of Heads of Maritime Agencies which was hosted by Dr Bashir Jamoh, Director General of Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA in Lagos, Shipping World magazine can report on good authority that the Customs Chief was indeed not invited to the parley.
A usually dependable source at Customs House, Abuja confided in this magazine that no formal letter of invitation was indeed extended to Hameed Ali. Said the source who pleaded for anonymity, ” I am in position to know if such an invitation was extended to my boss, i can tell you categorically that there was no such invitation. I can also tell you on good authority that when Dr Bashir Jamoh, the DG NIMASA, visited the Customs High Command in Abuja last month, the need to carry the Nigerian Customs Service along in this monthly meeting came up but even at that, it was evidently clear from the discussions that the visiting NIMASA helmsman apologized profusely for not extending an invitation to my boss at inaugural session which was hosted by the Nigerian Shippers Council ‘he said .
The absence of Hameed Ali in the first two meetings of Maritime Chiefs have continued to attract mixed reactions from maritime stakeholders. A former President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, who craved for anonymity wondered how the issue of 24 hour port operations could be discussed at a meeting where the Customs Chief was conspicuously absent. Said he: ‘Agreed the Nigerian Customs Service is not a parastatal under the Federal Ministry of Transportation and so may not be duty bound to be dragged into such a union, the point must be made that the Nigerian Customs Service is a critical Agency in cargo delivery and must be seen as a very important ally’