President Muhammadu Buhari Friday announced the immediate suspension of the comptroller-general of Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Mr David Shikfu Parradang, from office.
Mr Yusuf Ishiaka Alhaji, Director of Press, Ministry of Interior, announced the suspension in a statement dated August 21, 2015 on behalf of the permanent secretary of the ministry.
According to the statement, the most senior officer of the NIS, Mr Martin Kure Abeshi, Deputy Comptroller-general of Immigration, has been directed to take over the affairs of the office.
However, another statement also dated August 21, 2015 by a Director/Secretary in the ministry in charge of Civil Defence, Fire, Immigration and Prisons Services Board, Mr A.A. Ibrahim, specifically gave official explanations on why the immigration boss was suspended.
He said Parradang’s major sins, according to the ministry’s statement, were that he issued letters of appointment to 700 assistant inspectors of Immigration and 900 Immigration Assistants lll into NIS without approval.
The Immigration boss was also accused of refusing to take necessary measures to correct the alleged wrongdoing, despite repeated advice given to him by the Ministry, which was said to have been conveyed to him through several letters with reference nos FMI/PSO/OOl/lll/402 of June 11, 2015, and FMI/PSO/OOl/lll/411 of June 14, 2015.
The statement said, “Having considered the above-mentioned acts committed by you to mean deliberate to the extant laws, insubordination to constituted authority and improper behaviour inimical to the service that is unbecoming of a public officer, l am to inform you that you have been suspended from office with immediate effect. While you await further instruction, you are to hand over the affairs of your office to the most senior officer in the Nigeria Immigration Service. Please, accept the well wishes of the permanent secretary”.
However, a reliable source said that among other reasons for Parradang’s removal, was the raging controversy surrounding the possession of a valid Nigerian Visa by an Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) leader, Imam Ahmed Al-Assir, in Lebanon.
Ironically, this is coming weeks after the Immigration Service restricted visa issuance to about 24,000 young Nigerians seeking to travel abroad over fear they could join the dreaded ISIS.
President Muhammadu Buhari had earlier ordered an investigation into the granting of the visa to the ISIS chief Al Assir, who had been on the wanted list of several countries.
On Thursday, the rank and file at the Immigration headquarters, particularly the Comptroller-general, Mr. Parradang, were worried about their fate following the arrest of the terrorist, a development security experts described as a huge embarrassment to Nigeria.
A source at the Ministry of Interior, who pleaded not to be named for security reasons, said the President was disappointed at Parradang’s failure to utilize intelligence reports that unravelled that the terrorist groups had syndicates that front for them in the country to purchase passports and obtain visas.
The source disclosed that Buhari’s decision to lash out at Parradang was centered basically on the Service’s claim in a recent interview with BBC, through its spokesman, Mr Chukwuemeka Obuah.
Obuah had announced the restriction of visa issuance to young school leavers for about 15 months, citing fears that Nigeria had been named as a recruitment ground of the dreaded militant group as reason.
He had, in that interview, confirmed his agency’s fears that the terrorist group, which hunts basically for unemployed males, had a syndicate that makes arrangements for visas, tickets and funds for their recruits.
The President is concerned about the loopholes created at the country’s embassies by the lackadaisical attitude of security officers, especially the Immigration officers, and has vowed to deal with wanting officers bent on frustrating his efforts at ending terror attacks in the country.
The NIS has constantly received knocks over its poor handling of the issuance of passports to Nigerians, and foreigners with questionable character are always seen holding valid Nigerian passports.
A competent Foreign ministry official, who described the suspension as a serious warning to corrupt security officers in the country, revealed that Immigration officers, otherwise called ‘Entry Clearance Officers’ attached to embassies for the purposes of spotting people with questionable credentials and consequently barring them at the point of entry, are often found to have been compromised.
Another reliable source at the Immigration headquarters said the suspension is also linked to what security experts described as ‘addressing the unprofessionalism of a service chief who is never willing to learn’.
According to the source, “The news is not shocking at all. This is because, after the agency failed woefully in the discharge of its mandate of job recruitment for Nigerian youths, Parradang who felt he was former President Jonathan’s egg, chose to trade words with his superior rather than show remorse.”
Intense public condemnation trailed the death of over 23 young graduates in a stampede during a recruitment exercise into the Service nationwide with many others reportedly sustaining varying degrees of injuries.
The exercise was marked by its shoddiness, as the NIS conducted a written and a physical test for over two million applicants across the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory.
Curiously, each applicant was said to have paid N1,000 to purchase the screening form in spite of the fact that NIS, under Parradang’s watch, was seeking to recruit only 3,000 people, forcing most to suspect a rip-off.
Another reason linked to Parradang’s removal is the outrage by bereaved family members of victims of the botched recruitment exercise who had alleged that contrary to the directive by former president Goodluck Jonathan to the Immigration Service to automatically employ three members from each of the victims’ families, the slots were diverted by the Service on Parradang’s watch.
In spite of the consequent public outcry, the Service has refused to act otherwise.
Those who may succeed Parradang are the deputy controller-general (DCG), Administration, Henry Mangwi, and DCG Operations, Mr Muhammad Babadede.