Still on Suspension of Parradang of NIS…Setting the Record Straight
The recent suspension of CGI David Shikfu Parradang OFR, mni as the Comptroller-General of Immigration with effect from 21 August 2015, is a matter that has been generating rhetorics and innuendoes in the information space. It is a development that has set so many tongues wagging and the self-styled puritans who are known for prancing on public issues and hurling uninformed analyses have yet got another assignment on their hands. But before anybody will be in a haste to take the Service to the guillotine, nay the allegedly “erring” Comptroller-General, we have considered it a deserving duty of overriding public importance to set the record straight and educate Nigerians on clear position of things. Nigeria Immigration Service has not been in the news for negative reasons over the years except for details that will be laid bare in this treatise.
The NIS as an entity is under the supervision of the Ministry of Interior through an organ known as Civil Defence, Fire, Immigration and Prisons Board (CDFIPB). For a paramilitary outfit that should enjoy a reasonable measure of autonomy, the relationship between the NIS and the above mentioned supervisory organ has not been rosy. And this can be traceable to the disgraceful manner successive Comptrollers-General have left office. Over the years, the major source of conflict is the issues bordering on recruitment, promotion and posting in the Service. As earlier stated the NIS is one of the agencies under the supervision of the Ministry of Interior, through the CDFIPB. However, the NIS has a legal instrument (Immigration Act 1963, reviewed in 2015) that regulates its functions. Whereas the Immigration Act and Immigration manual regulate the daily operational activities of the Nigeria Immigration Service the Board’s Act takes care of policy matters of all the agencies in the Board such as Prisons, Civil Defence and the Fire Service .
With regards to appointment, promotion and discipline, Section 4(2), CAP 12 Immigration and Prisons Board Act, LFN of 1986, states thus: The Board shall have power –
a. To appoint persons to hold or act in all the offices in the affected Services, including power to make appointments on promotion or transfer and to confirm appointments; and
b. To dismiss and exercise other disciplinary control over persons appointed pursuant to paragraph (a) of this subsection.
Section 4(3) of this Act however set the clear limit on the power of the Board in the following words “The power conferred on the Board under subsection (2) of this section, shall notwithstanding anything to the contrary in any other enactment, include the power to appoint and exercise disciplinary control over –
a. The Director (Comptroller-General) of Immigration; and
b. The Director (Comptroller-General) of the Prisons Service.
That the recent letter of suspension of the Comptroller General reference CDFIPB/IMM/348/Vol.I/54 dated 21st August 2015 and signed by one AA Ibrahim, Director/Secretary is at variance with the letters and intention of the provisions of section 4(3) of the Board’s Act is not contestable. In the letter the signatory claimed to be directed to issue the letter by a supposedly superior authority which normally should be the Presidency but signed the said letter for and on behalf of himself. This is not only curious but quite unusual of Federal Civil Service practice. The whole exercise borders on someone usurping the power he never had to issue such a letter especially to a chief executive who was appointed by the President and Commander-in-Chief.
That the relationship between the NIS and the Board has not been cordial is simply stating the obvious. In the recent past, especially during the tenure of CJ Udeh, OFR, (2005 – 2010), the struggle for the control of the soul of the NIS by the Ministry/Board have been so tense to the extent that successive Comptroller-Generals virtually struggled to run their offices due to the overbearing interferences of the officials of the Ministry/Board in the day to day running of the service. At a point, it got to a ridiculous extent that Comptrollers-General of the NIS were requested to submit staff posting order to the Ministry/Board for vetting or reasons best known to them. Any staff deployment exercise especially foreign posting that does not accommodate at least 70% of the powerful members of the Board/Ministry would not be accepted. Any Comptroller General, who does otherwise, would be charged with insubordination and improper behaviour to constituted authority even when it is obvious that the candidates of these powerful Board members are not in any way qualified for such vital deployments. CJ Udeh’s tenure can be described as the brightest chapter in the annals of NIS relationship with the Board. And this can be attributed to two reasons: the then President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR understood the peculiar dynamics associated with the administration of the military and paramilitary institutions such as the NIS. He gave the Comptroller-General a clear mandate to restructure and reposition the Service and went further to complement same with the appointment of Gen. Godwin Abbe (Rtd) as Honorable Minister of Interior/Chairman of the Board. The truth of the matter is that CJ Udeh wouldn’t have succeeded if he were to be subjected to unnecessary administrative bottlenecks inherent in the Board.
That a Comptroller-General of the NIS will be expected to get approval from the Board/Ministry to deploy staff literally means that he/she is just a figurehead. That a CGI cannot even effect urgent operational changes and grant media interview without clearance from the Ministry/Board in 21st century Nigeria is not only laughable, but also at variance with the provision of the Freedom Of Information Act 2011.
It is no longer news that the Comptroller General of Immigration, David S. Parradang, OFR,mni has been suspended because of alleged violation of extant laws as enunciated by the CDFIP Board. What is news however, is that the Board is in a hurry to make Nigerians forget the genesis and the roles they played in the recruitment debacle of March 15, 2014. However, Nigerians are wise people; they know the story. They know that some persons who are still walking free on the streets of this country collected N1000 from each of the over 700,000 Nigerian job seekers in the botched exercise of 15 March, 2014 during which 15 young Nigerians paid the supreme price with their blood and tens of others got various degrees of injuries. Public outcry rented the whole atmosphere. The senate of the 7th Assembly waded into the matter but because those who swindled the young Nigerians and even killed some in the most shameful recruitment exercise were so powerful, the senate report never saw the light of the day even up till date. Even the presidential directives on them to refund the blood money of #1000:00 collected from young job seekers remained ignored.
The Federal Government led by the former President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR was shaken to its foundations. A rescue mission was embarked on, upon the realization that some cronies at the Board have not only swindled these young Nigerians, but also sent them to their early graves for the job they never got.
A Committee known as The Presidential Committee to Assist in Immigration Recruitment was constituted on 26th March, 2014 by the former President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR. The membership of that committee includes;
1. The Chairman Federal Civil Service Commission (Chairman)
2. The Permanent Secretary (General Services) OSGF
3. The Comptroller- General of Immigration
4. The Representative of the Inspector General of Police
5. The representative of the DG Department of State Services
6. The representative of the Corps Marshal FRSC
7. The representative of the Commandant General Civil Defense Corps
8. The representative of the Controller- General Prisons
9. The representative of the Attorney General of the Federation
10. The representative of D G, Federal Character Commission
11. The representative of the Head of Service
The terms of reference of this Committee as signed by the then Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Sen. Anyim Pius Anyim includes;
i. To liaise with the Board to confirm the actual number of personnel to be recruited
ii. To assist the Board by advertising the recruitment with a view to starting the process afresh
iii. To assist the Board by processing the application, short listing of potential applicants and conducting necessary interviews for the purpose of the recruitment exercise
iv. To assist the Board by following all relevant laws, Public Service Rules and guidelines to determine successful applicants and announce their appointment into the NIS
v. To ensure that three family members of each deceased applicant from the aborted exercise, at least one of whom should be a female are given immediate and automatic appointment
vi. To ensure that all those injured are given immediate and automatic appointment in the NIS.
The Presidential Committee got into action and advertisement for job vacancies was placed in various media platforms. CGI Parradang was neither the chairman of the Committee nor the Secretary but just an ordinary member whose central concern was to make any useful contributions that would remove the NIS which he headed from public ridicule occasioned by the botched March 15, 2014 recruitment fraud organized and supervised by the Board/Ministry.
The Committee deployed the Computer- Based Test (CBT) option for selection of candidates and this culminated in the enlistment of about 1600 recruits through a much better process than the botched March 15, 2014 recruitment exercise. All these were of junior rank of which the enabling laws of the land (PSR 020103) allow the Comptroller General as the head of the extra ministerial agency to recruit.
The current fight that led to the suspension of the CGI began when the Board called on him to cancel the entire recruitment exercise done by the presidential committee. He told them clearly that he has no such unilateral power to annul the outcome of an exercise of that magnitude because other members of the committee need to be consulted. The real truth about the Board’s position is not unconnected with the fact that the exercise did not allow members of the Board to impose their candidates on the CGI to recruit thereby short changing qualified Nigerians.
The Board/Ministry felt that the CGI, DS Parradang, OFR,mni did not carry them along in the exercise. This is not only strange but very illogical because there was no how the CGI would have nominated the representative of the Board to the Presidential Committee of which he was also a nominated member.
The SINS of CGI Parradang in the court of the Board/Ministry are not unconnected with his consistent calls for the adherence to proper procedures and practices in the relationship between the Board/Ministry and the NIS. On 27th May, 2015, and towards the end of the last administration, the Board forwarded three different lists of 30 Specially Promoted Officers of the NIS. The CGI raised opposition to the lists pointing out that his inputs on any of the so called specially promoted officers were not sought by the Board as required by the Board’s Guidelines on Special Promotion. In the accompanying letter, signed by AA Ibrahim, the CGI was directed to issue promotion letters to the eight affected junior personnel implying the Board’s belated recognition that the CGI was supposed to be carried along in the first place. The letter reads in parts thus; “in the exercise of your delegated responsibility, your are expected to conduct the production and issuance of the individual officers’ letters of promotion”
Under normal circumstance and in line with Service Rules and CDFIPB Guidelines, Promotion and Discipline of August 2012, which provides in paragraph ‘C’, of page 20, the CGI was supposed to send briefs on any officer who has demonstrated uncommon character, exceptional brilliance and conduct worthy of commendation and reward to the Board for special promotion. The Board neglected this requirement and merely forwarded lists of specially promoted officers they concocted to the CGI for release and publication to affected officers.
The position of CGI Parradang on the special promotion has always been that when officers and men are unduly elevated far ahead their mates and indeed superiors without proven evidence of competence or any justifiable reason (s), especially in a regimented environment, indiscipline, loss of morale and disaffection would set in and that may have terrible consequences both to the Service and the larger society. This position especially his protest letter of 8th June 2015 to the Board on that matter was seriously frowned at by the Board/Ministry marking the genesis of the unfolding realities of today.
Again on matters of staff posting order and deployment the Board would always want to dictate for the CGI, who to deploy to where and how in a paramilitary agency under arms where due diligence and professionalism must be strictly followed in such matters. For instance, in a list of about 46 officers and men recently posted to Foreign Missions, 16 that is about 35% of them were the candidates of Comrade Abba Moro the former Minister/ Chairman of the Board and almost the same percentage came from officials of the Board/Ministry.
The Board/Ministry overseeing the NIS as constituted today is nothing but a group of businessmen in Public Service whose ‘gods’ must be appeased before any Comptroller General of Immigration or personnel of NIS can get his/her legitimate privileges. You must bribe your ways to get promoted as a senior officer and you must be highly connected to somebody in the Board to be posted to any “juicy” formations in the NIS. These among others are the evils that Parradang fought gallantly against the Board. Unfortunately, with their half-truths the Board was able to mislead the Presidency to secure Parradang’s suspension. The truth about the rot in NIS is that it has nothing to do with Parradang as an individual but the NIS as a critical stakeholder in the security architecture of the country.
In many serious minded countries, the heads of their Homeland/Interior Ministries are usually persons with robust military/ paramilitary background who have acceptable understanding about how to run any security institution.
Nigeria must begin to think in this direction because former Comptrollers General of the NIS such as SA Dange, RC Uzoma and now DS Parradang got hooked in the dirty traps of the Board/ Ministry. The result is that the nation suffers for it. That Parradang, a consummate officer and a trained member of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) is alleged to have overstepped his boundaries in a service he has worked for over 32 years is keenly watching how this suspension works out. This just scene One, we are waiting anxiously for scene Two.
Comrade S. Audu
For Concerned Immigration Officers
25th August 2015