This Day (Lagos)

21 January 2013

Nigeria: Immigration Row Deepens As Moro's Accused of Nepotism

Staff demand minister's sack Minister denies allegations of interference, favouritism By Senator Iroegbu in Abuja

The ripples that have dogged the affairs of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) leading to the sack of the Comptroller General of the service, Mrs. Rose Chinyere Uzoma, has continued with the Minister of Interior, Comrade Abba Moro being accused of influencing the recent promotion and posting exercise in the Service.

Insider feelers are indicating that Uzoma was axed because she opposed Moro's alleged interference in the NIS.

According to some aggrieved Comptrollers of Immigration, the Minister had exhibited "an unprecedented favouritism and nepotism that has never been seen in the Immigration Service."

They noted that Uzoma was singled out for punishment because she stood up to "overbearing interference of the Minister in his conduct and supervision of promotion and posting of officers, and as well as some top staff of NIS who want to influence the upcoming recruitment exercise."

Speaking to THISDAY last December at the height of the recruitment controversy, one of the Immigration officers alleged that the Minister delayed and later dropped the original posting list drafted by Uzoma and replaced it with his own sanctioned list".

The source accused the Minister of meddling into the operational areas of the Service by jettisoning the posting of the former Comptroller General of Immigration and drawing up his own.

"I don't want to start talking about all that has been happening, but I can tell of unnecessary interference in the affairs of the service," the source said.

"It would be to the detriment of the nation if President Goodluck Jonathan continues to allow the Minister to supervise the activities of the Agency and also to allow the posting carried out by the Ministry to remain," one of the aggrieved staff stated.

Accordingly, some insiders in the NIS had alleged that Moro favoured Benue State (his home state) in the last posting and promotion exercise of last year with one Deputy Comptroller General, two Assistant Comptroller General (ACGs) and five Comptrollers heading Commands.

Some of the staff lamented that the posting, which was approved by Moro and signed by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior Mrs Daniel Nwaobia, had some states with more than three state Comptrollers while most states have none.

The minister in the letter to the CGI dated November 28, 2012 and signed by the Permanent Secretary, states: "I write to refer to your letters Ref. Nos. NIS/SHQ/CGIS/037/1 and NIS/SHQ/CGIS/037 dated 24th September, 2nd and 26th November, 2012, respectively, on the above subject and convey approved posting of officers by the Honourable Minister as per the attached list. The posting is to be implemented with immediate effect. You are to revert back on the status of implementation of the approved posting."

It was also alleged that Moro had written to the Comptroller of Immigration, directing her not to speak to the press without his permission, making Uzoma to tell some journalists at the time that came to enquire about the affairs in the service that, "I have to get clearance from the Minister."

In the same vein, the minister had warned at the Ministerial Press briefing of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) that any officer in the service of the Agency protesting against the posting or promotion carried out would be sanctioned.

The minister had, however, in his press briefing last year denied any form of meddling in the affairs of NIS or having five Comptrollers from Benue State heading Commands.

Reacting to the media reports he admitted that they were only two State Comptrollers of Benue State origin.

He said: "I am constrained to address you today to correct recent distortion of records in the Nigerian Immigration Service by a section of the Nigerian Media. While one will be tempted to ignore these publications because they are far from the truth, the fact that they border on half truths and outright falsehood makes refuting them an obvious imperative."

"After a painstaking stock taking in the NIS, it became necessary to direct the service to effect a comprehensive movement of staff so as to reposition the service for effect and efficient delivery in the years ahead. At no time was any attempt made at allocating slots of postings only to the kinsmen of the Minister or the Comptroller-General of Immigration whether in local or foreign service.

"Since my assumption of office as Minister, to the best of my knowledge, posting of officers has been based on professional competence and knowledge of subject matter of assignment. For the records, I am not aware that five indigenes of Benue State or for that matter Idoma are in foreign posting before now. And some of the names being bandied around are not indigenes of Benue State or Idoma from where I hail.

"For example, one Jerry Adah mentioned in the Publication of 2nd January as my kinsman is an indigene of Cross River State. The two Comptrollers at Seme Border and Cross River State were Comptrollers of Immigration at Seme Border and Ekiti State before I even became Minister. The records are there in the NIS for verification. I make bold on my honour to challenge anyone to publish the names of the five of my kinsmen or those of the Comptroller-General of Immigration in foreign posting."

Concerning the promotion he said: "The 2011 promotion of men and officers of the Nigerian Immigration Service is the most far-reaching in history where officers who had stagnated for upwards of eight years were promoted based on available establishment vacancies. Promotions are conducted in line with well articulated guidelines approved by the Civil Defence, Fire Immigration and Prisons Service Board (CDFIPB) which include but not limited to an open competitive written examination.

"Since assuming office, no officer was favoured for promotion by the Board over and above and/or to the disadvantage of more qualified officers. Again, the records are there in the NIS for verification. And I challenge anyone to name names of any persons who have been favoured in promotion at the expense of others based on aggregate performance of all officers involved in the promotion exercise for 2011 or since I became Minister."

However, some of the officers who confided in some journalists faulted the position and statistics presented the Minister, insisting that both the promotion and posting of officers in Immigration favoured the Benue officers in the Service.

The noted: "Benue State has, Denen Akka, Deputy Comptroller General, Planning Research and Statistics; two Assistant Comptrollers General in the persons of Anthony Ogiri Okolobia, in charge Zone A, Lagos and Ogbenjuwa Ada Godwin, Visa/Entry P Div.(SHQ).

"For the Comptrollers, they gave their names, nominal numbers and posting. They are as follows: Idu Adah Bartholomew, 4021, CIS in charge of Kwara Command; Igoche Ogwuji Samuel, 3481, CIS in charge of Cross River Command; Ogbu Adadu Esa Juluis, 9771, CIS in charge of Seme Command; Gbuga Emmanuel Aondoaka, 7992, CIS in charge of Akwa Ibom Command; and Abin Faga Micheal, CIS Ebony Command."

"Others are Akatu Innocent, 9842, Deputy Comptroller Immigration (DCI) in charge of Passport Office, Benin; Oche William Igoche, 5626, DCI, Passport Office Festac; and Eche D.A., 6599 Assistant Comptroller Immigration in charge of Passport Office, Benue.

All these officers, by the Immigration's nominal role that has the particulars of the 25, staff of the Service are from Benue State."

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