Minister of Interior, Comrade Abba Moro, and the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Mrs Rose Chinyere Uzoma, favour their Igbo and Idoma kinsmen respectively, to the detriment of professionalism and competence in the service, Blueprint has learnt.
Sources close to both the Immigration headquarters and the Interior ministry told our correspondent that the two top officials solely share most slots of postings and promotions among themselves, thereby inserting their kinsmen at strategic places in the service.
The list of postings and promotion for officers of the Immigration Service released on November 20, 2012, saw most of the posts of Comptrollers, Passport Officers and Assistant Comptrollers General (ACGs) skewed to favour kinsmen of the minister and the CG.
The minister heads the Civil Defence, Fire, Prisons and Immigration Board, which makes final approval for postings and promotions, a system insiders say is an anomaly as it works against professional ethics and breeds mediocrity.
Senior officials at the NIS who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity explained that postings and promotions are strategic operational decisions that should only be handled by professionals.
“However, the Madam (CG) is the one that gave room for all these because it was when the minister noticed her bias towards her own people that he started interfering and, in some instances, removing some people to import his own kinsmen,” a source said.
Documents of recent foreign postings of Immigration officials obtained by Blueprint showed that officers from Imo and Abia state populated the over 40 slots while most states of the federation had none.
While eight officials from Imo and four from Abia – both of them Igbo-speaking states – got posted mostly to the choice destination of United Kingdom and America, no officer from bigger states like Kano, Lagos and Enugu was on the list.
The Immigration service operates 15 visa offices located in 12 countries, globally.
However, when in June 2012 eight officers returned home on expiration of their postings, Moro replaced five of them with his Idoma kinsmen. Of the five, two each were posted to United States and China while the fifth was posted to South Africa.
The recent posting of Passport Officers and Comptrollers was also allegedly done in a way that is considered favourable to favourites of the CG and the minister.
Two of the minister’s kinsmen were posted to Cross River and the Seme border as comptrollers, while three others were appointed as Passport Officers.
Among the passport officers, Jerry Adah, posted to Ogun, Eche David (Benue) and Akatu Innocent (Edo) are of Moro’s Idoma stock.
A ranking officer at the NIS who craved anonymity told Blueprint that in addition to the alleged favouritism in postings, some officers are being promoted to newer ranks based on their links with the CG while their mates who could get similar treatment are neglected.
He said: “The Madam and the minister are just killing the service. They don’t consider competence and professionalism in what they do, and this is killing the morale of some of us.”
However, both the minister and the Immigration high command have countered the charge of favouritism made against them, saying due process is always followed in taking such decisions.
Speaking through his special assistant on media, Malam Salihu Dantata Mahmud, the minister said his credentials as a “true and detribalized Nigerian” would not allow him to play ethnic cards by favouring his people over others.
According to him, he allows professionalism and ethics to prevail in all manners to do with the Immigration service and all other agencies under him.
Spokesman of the Immigration Service, ACI Olumbar Joachim, said those charges were “complete lies”, adding: “Even officers from Imo and Abia state that are allegedly favoured also complain because they think having one of them as the Comptroller they should be favoured, which they are not getting.”
He said all the allegations bandied against the CG were an attempt by some people to alter the course of who becomes the next boss of the service.