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NIS Boss, Babandede Defends His Appointment

Mohammed Babandede
Posted: Jul 13, 2016 at 4:29 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

*Goes tough on diplomatic passports

*Says lobbyists causing havoc in NIS

Tony Ezimakor

Abuja – Two months on the saddle, Mohammed Babandede,  the incumbent Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), has responded to critics who queried his appointment,  insisting  that his ascension as CGI was purely on merit.

He revealed that  contrary to insinuations and widespread propaganda at the time, he was indeed subjected to rigorous security checks and intense interviews before the Civil Defence, Fire, Immigration and Prisons Services Board (CDFIPB) recommended him.

The immigration boss also reeled out reforms he planned will usher in a modern and purpose-driven Immigration Service, some of which , he said ,has already started yielding results.

Speaking during an interactive session with journalists in Abuja, the  CGI Babandede noted that intense lobbying that accompany postings in the service has remained a clog in the wheel of staff development and must be tackled head-on.

He revealed that a committee is working on a two-yearly posting circular for different officer cadre as a way of  addressing activities of lobbyists who will spare no expense to remain at a place for pecuniary gains.

” We are reorganising issues that have to do with staff promotion and posting. Posting is a major issue; I have officers who have spent nine years in what they call ‘lucrative posts’,  people who have spent nine years in training school.  It is not justice,  it is not fair; just because you think you know people. Or you can bribe your way to stay in a place that is ‘juicy’ while others stay in places that are considered as punishment.

In tandem with directive by President Mohammadu Buhari for fairness and justice to prevail in the service,  he said the posting policy will ensure that no officer stays more than two years in a particular posting

“The posting circular form will be for cadre officers.  For instance,  for Assistant Superintendent or Superintendent cadre,  we can say this is your posting circular form, you spend two years in the passport office, the next posting will be the border. You must go to border. Then after the border you go to visa and so on”.

Babandede explained that existence of such circular will curb the pressure often mounted by lobbyist through highly placed persons in society, including governors,  senators and ministers.

“I am dealing with great lobbyists, great lobbyists and this has caused a lot of havoc. When I came on board I found officers who have spent eight years on foreign posting yet they are begging ministers,  Senators and Honorable members of the House for them to stay . And if you check the ratio of those in foreign service, it shows that only five percent or less of the whole immigration officers will have opportunity to go on foreign posting before they retire,” he said.

He warned that henceforth any officers that asks for preferential posting or requests to stay in their postings will not only be rebuffed but such request will be placed in the secret file of that officer.

On the return of diplomatic passport by former government officials,  the CGI maintain that the strategy to collect these passports from their holders at the boarder will be sustained.

He said additional sterner measures including prosecution of defaulters of government directive on return of diplomatic passports may also be considered.

Babandede disclosed that the NIS has received approval to write to federal, states,  local governments institutions to henceforth include the return of these government documents as some of the things to return before  payment of retirement benefits.

” If you are a Senator or members of House of Representatives, before you finish your tenure there is something that is called severance benefits. Before you collect the benefits, you must return you diplomatic passport .

“Also we have started,  you cannot cross the border with the diplomatic passport whether going or coming if you are not entitled to it, we will collect it . The best I can do for you is to give you photocopy of the passport or a letter that I have confiscated the passport.

The next thing we will do is to go house to house to  collect it. It is an offense. I told a former minister that it is an offense for you to hold a passport when you don’t deserve it . It attracts two years jail term. We will soon begin to catch defaulters.  People have started returning a lot of the passports ,” he said.