Editorial: The Certificate Scandal in Immigration Service

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Controller-General-Nigeria-Immigration-Service-Mr-David-Paradang-360x225On Monday September 1, 2014, a Newspaper published a story of certificates scandal in the Nigerian Immigration Services (NIS). It was a tale of the absurd. The report had it that about 60% of the top hierarchy of the workforce entered the service with false certificates, and in some cases, multiplicity of birth certificates or age declarations for an individual. The revelation is said to be so alarming that the Comptroller-General, David Paradang, had to set up an administrative panel to investigate the matter. In the same vein the Minister for Internal Affairs, Comrade Abba Moro, was reported to have set up another committee to screen the credentials of serving immigration officers.

The newspaper had reported, “An intensive lobbying is presently on-going in the service – a paramilitary agency of the Ministry of Internal Affairs – to persuade the authorities to turn a blind eye to the report of two committees which recently verified the certificates of NIS staff. The NIS and the Ministry had not long ago set up different panels to investigate charges of certificate and age falsification leveled against some senior officers. However, in a rejoinder to the story by the Media Assistant to the Minister, Nats Onoja Agbo, not only did he confirm the story, he went further to say that it was a recurring decimal but contended that there was no truth in the impression created by the story that the report might not be ratified by the Immigration Board.

We find it interesting to note that Agbo, while exonerating his boss, noted that; “the issue of forged documents has been a recurring decimal… and for the avoidance of doubt, the Honourable Minister has no intention of sweeping issues that would be raised by the yet-to-be submitted report under the carpet.” Very well! While not joining issues with the Ministry, we want to call on the Minister that if truly the report has not been released, he should prevail on the committee to expedite action on it. Besides why would there be two committees on the same issue; is it such that the Minister would be in a position to be justified in overriding the recommendation of the Comptroller-General?

Secondly, we are of the conviction that Agbo ought to speak on the Ministry’s committee and not that of the Service. Competent sources say the report of the panel by the Comptroller-General is ready but people high up in the Ministry are trying to suppress it. We are equally not unmindful that since the disastrous outcome of the scandalous NIS recruitment exercise commission by the Ministry, nothing has been heard about investigations into the affair; yet the Minister sits pretty in office, while affected families mourn the loss of the 23 loved ones who died in the incident. The Ministry, obviously, seems to be up to another scandal in this matter of false credentials of NIS staff.

There is no denying the fact that Nigerians eagerly await the outcome of the investigations. Not only that, we look forward to culprits being brought under the full weight of the law. The position of the law on the matter is very clear – instant dismissal and possible prosecution. There should be no consideration for any soft landing for offenders, as it is being rumoured as the possible cause for the delay in making public the reports of the two panels of investigations. Besides, the Minister will be doing himself a lot of good, if he could seize this opportunity to make the report of the ill-fated NIS recruitment public; that would help to redeem the somewhat negative impression of him among a section of the Nigerian public.

In : Scandal

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