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ISSUES IN THE IMMIGRATION INVESTIGATION PANEL

By NBF News
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For some keen observers of the Nigerian system, there might be little to worry about the recent presidential directive issued to the Controller General of Nigeria Immigration Service, Mrs. Rose Uzoma, to the effect that she should proceed to compulsory leave as a prelude to her ultimate exit from service, bearing in mind that she would be running the full circle of her service race by March 2013. Perhaps as a woman destined to partner with fate in a male dominated profession, Mrs. Rose Uzoma would have ab intio thought little or nothing about the possibility of becoming the Controller – General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, let alone retiring as one. It therefore follows that no matter anybody's impression about the prevailing circumstances of the time as she prepares to bow out, the truth is that Mrs. Uzoma will be remembered for being a woman of stern stuff, a patriotic Nigerian, an obedient public servant and/or perhaps a rebel with a cause, at least in the context of the circumstances we live in Nigeria.

However, much as it is understandable that the Honorable Minister of Interior, comrade Abba Moro, has set up a panel to look into the allegations of bias in the promotion of officers of the Immigration Service, ethnic sentiment in the recruitment exercise, amongst others, reportedly leveled against Mrs. Rose Uzoma by some of her colleagues and some members of the public alike, there is no doubt that the outcome of this panel is not unpredictable if the media reports on issues of immigration recruitment scam so far as well as the unending scandals that have trailed activities of the Ministry of Interior in the recent past are anything to go by.

As was widely reported in the media, part of the reason for the presidential directive to Mrs. Uzoma to embark on compulsory leave was not unconnected with her alleged secret recruitment of over four thousand new officers into the Service, which was reported not to have gone down well with the Honorable Minister for reasons best known to him. In any case, true or false, one thing is certain, Comrade Abba Moro could hardly be isolated from the scam since it allegedly took place under the ministry he oversees and as such has lost or rather lacked the necessary moral ground to be the one to set up a panel to investigate Mrs. Uzoma.

Incidentally, allowing this panel set up by Comrade Moro to carry out the task of investigating Mrs. Uzoma in a matter he seems to have vested interest in. It is, to say the least, tantamount to urging its members who are all subordinates to the Honorable Minister to follow his unwritten script to a predictable end. In other words, the Honorable Minister is thus availing himself the privilege of being a Judge in his own cause.

Meanwhile, regarding the allegation that Mrs Rose Uzoma favoured the people of South-East and South-South in the recruitment exercise, cursory look here and there will show that these two geo-political zones are least favoured in terms of their infinitesimal quota or representation in all para-military bodies under the Ministry of Interior. In the opposite, however, the North has the highest number of both senior and junior officers, especially the Benue (Idoma) people of the North Central geo-political zone where the Honourable Minister, Comrade Abba Moro, hails from. Yet, someone somewhere would have the temerity to accuse Mrs. Rose Uzoma of nepotism or tribalism or what have you.

Surely, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan might do well to order for a comprehensive compilation of names of all officers of the para-military bodies under the Ministry of Interior alongside their states of origin and, more importantly, this should be completed with the verification of their results or certificates. Or better still, he might as well disguise himself and take a walk to the Ministry in order to find out the Local Language of conducting government business there. This, no doubt, will help all and sundry, the President inclusive, to ascertain the level of hypocrisy that pervades every nook and cranny of this country.

Much as this piece is not intended to hold brief for Mrs. Rose Uzoma in anyway, over her actions and/or inactions, the point must be noted that comrade Abba Moro does not seem to be an unbiased umpire to constitute a body of inquiry into the activities of Mrs. Rose Uzoma while in office. The fact is that if the Honourable Minister was actually involved directly or indirectly in the Job racketeering rocking the Nigeria Immigration Service, then the truth of what transpired would certainly be submerged, no matter anybody's efforts to the contrary. But if the opposite happens to be the case, then the tendency is that the report of the panel would obviously be tilted in the predictable direction of paying Mrs. Rose Uzoma back in her own coins for allegedly refusing to do the Minister's biddings which are reportedly regarded as acts of disobedience.

In the circumstance, therefore, it becomes imperative to call on President Goodluck Jonathan to swiftly nip in the bud the looming integrity crises in the Ministry of Interior by removing or reassigning Comrade Abba Moro as well as setting up a Special Presidential panel to investigate the activities of key players of the Ministry and their law enforcement counterparts in all ramifications. A Stitch in time saves nine.

-Paschal wrote in  from  the International Institute of Journalism,