The Comptroller General of Immigration, Rosemary Uzoma, was sacked on tuesday due to prolonged disagreement between her and interior minister, Abba Moro, over the day to day running of the Service, according to a report by the International Centre for Investigations Reporting.
Sources in the Immigration Service and internal affairs ministry told icirnigeria.org that the minister had been having a running battle for months with Mrs. Uzoma and the Comptroller General of Prisons, heads of two parastatals under his supervision, because of his interference in the running of the agencies. The sources requested anonymity for fear they might be victimised by the administration.
The minister is believed to have written a memo to President Goodluck Jonathan recommending the sack of the immigration boss alleging insubordination, particularly regarding recent posting and recruitment exercises conducted by the Immigration Service.
The minister, in the memo, accused Mrs. Uzoma of reversing the postings across the board approved by him for officers and men of the Service, three weeks after resumption of the affected officers in their new posts, thereby creating confusion.
PREMIUM TIMES could not reach Mr. Moro for comments on Wednesday morning. Calls to his mobile telephone did not go through.
However, sources in the Service accused the minister of high handedness, abuse of office, corruption, nepotism and ethnicity, and maintain that the immigration boss got the boot because she resisted attempts by the minister to usurp the functions of her office.
For example, the minister is said to have usurped the duties of the comptrollers general of immigration and prison services so much so that he was directly involved in the posting of very junior officers.
Before Mr. Moro became interior minister, the tradition in the services was for the comptrollers general to undertake all the postings in their agencies. The CG sent only the list of assistant comptrollers general and deputy comptrollers general to the minister for approval. Most times, since the minister does not know the men, he trusts the CG’s judgment and approves the posting.
However, it is alleged that the interior minister had personally taken interest in postings in the immigration and prison services and handled postings of men as low in rank as chief superintendents.
According to our sources, the minister and his aides actually pay attention to the minutest details of posting to the extent that they post people to specific offices, desks and schedules.
This high handedness on the part of the minister, it is said, has bred a lot of indiscipline in the services, particularly in the commands, because junior officers who got postings through the him no longer subjected themselves to the comptrollers in the commands.
The minister and Mrs. Uzoma are said to have quarreled over many issues bothering on usurpation of her functions, but the immediate problem that led to her ouster began in November when she undertook new postings in the service.
She is said to have sent the list of assistant comptrollers general and deputy comptrollers general to the minister as was the tradition. After receiving approval from the minister, the general posting was published and the exercise effected.
However, it is alleged that many junior officers who did not like their new postings ran to the minister and his aides who then reposted them.
This created many problems. In some places, officers were posted to positions being held by people who were not redeployed, thus creating the confusing state of two persons holding one post.
The other problem, according to sources, was that some offices who were under investigations or had been indicted or queried for offences ranging from theft, embezzlement and fraud were posted to sensitive security positions that would compromise the service.
In other cases, people from the same family were posted to the same unit, something that is usually avoided in the service to prevent all kinds of breaches. For example, in the ministers posting, a lady from Adamawa is said to have lobbied and gotten a posting to Delta State as Passport Control Officer.
The snag is that the comptroller of the Delta State command of the service happened to be not only from the same state but is actually her cousin.
It was gathered that the CG decided to rectify these anomalies after a month of receiving complaints from several commands and last week Wednesday came out with a list of about 46 names to be affected in a new posting exercise to put things in order.
This exercise affected only comptrollers and below and not assistant comptrollers general and deputy comptrollers general whose postings have to be vetted by the minister.
That was when all hell broke loose. Many of those who were favoured in the minister’s initial revised posting ran to him to complain. It is alleged that the minister told all those affected to ignore the CG’s new posting and last Friday wrote Mrs Uzoma to reverse her latest posting declaring it null and void.
The CG is said to have maintained that she had sole prerogative under the law to effect the posting of comptrollers and below, a position that greatly irked the minister.
The minister, it is alleged, is also executing an agenda meant to further his political ambition to become the governor of Benue State in 2015. He was accused of posting his kinsmen and people from his state in key, strategic positions that are regarded as “juicy and lucrative” with the belief that they will help sponsor his ambition to rule his state.
The minister, since assuming office, for example, has posted five persons from his home state,Benue, to take charge of commands as comptrollers in fragrant disregard of the federal character principle.
Of these, three are men from his Idoma tribe. These are CIS Ogbu Adadu, Seme Command; CISIdu Batholomew, Kwara State command and CIS Igoche Ogwuji Samuel in charge of Cross River State command.
The two other persons from Benue State, both Tivs, who head commands, are CIS Abin and CISGbuuga, heads of Ebonyi and Akwa Ibom commands respectively.
The inequality and nepotism that Moro has bred is such that while Benue State has five officers heading commands, a state like Katsina has five qualified comptrollers but none of them heads any command. There are many examples like that.
The minister’s memo to the president complaining of her insubordination, our sources said, was aimed at misinforming the President and covering up the fact that it is the minister who was trying to usurp her function.
Our sources point out that the CG only tinkered with the posting of comptrollers downwards over which she had absolute discretionary powers while leaving intact the postings of assistant comptrollers general and deputy comptrollers general, which the minister has to approve before it can be effected.
Mrs. Uzoma, who was appointed CG Immigrations in July 2010, was billed to retire from service in March, 2013, when she clocks 60.