The Ikoyi Passport Office and Jere’s Timely Stitch
BY EGUONO ODJEGBA
The aphorism ‘ a stitch in time saves nine’ came handy recently when the Acting Comptroller general of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Isa Idris Jere nipped the high heeled passport racketeering , he inadvertently led its discovery at the Ikoyi Passport Office, Lagos.
The NIS CG had made the discovery in the course of an undercover assignment he personally undertook as a passport applicant on October 18, 2021; to have on the spot assessment of the service operation. There, he discovered saddening high level of insensitive operational rots that has resulted huge backlog of passport applications.
He caught his officers and operatives red handed, whom he summarily redeployed and thereafter, set up a Special Task Force Team to retool its operational procedures, sanitise passport application process, and above all, to clear the backlog of passport applications at the Ikoyi Passport Office within a week.
The Special Task Force Team was also mandated to streamline the operations of the Service Festac Town and Ikeja Passport offices, respectively. Consequently, Jere removed the passport control officer at the Ikoyi passport office, Ibrahim Liman, a deputy comptroller of immigration.
Liman’s counterparts at the Ikeja and FESTAC Town passport offices, N.J Dashe and Adeola Adesokan were also affected in the sudden shakeup; and transferred outside the Lagos Command of the NIS. While Liman and Adesokan were recalled to the service headquarters in Abuja, Dashe was transferred to the Zonal Command in Lagos, covering Ogun and Lagos states.
The Immigration CG replaced Ibrahim Liman with Abolupe Oladoyin Bewaji, a deputy comptroller of Immigration. This is even as Dashe and Adesokan were replaced by R.L Bukar and S. Umar, respectively. Bukar and Umar are also deputy comptrollers of immigration.
The new posting which was contained in circular titled, Senior Staff Posting Order, signed by the Deputy Comptroller General of NIS in charge of Human Resources, A.B Yarima, said the new posting was with immediate effect.
The circular reads: “I am directed to convey approval for the following posting with immediate effect”, listing the names of the eight officers affected by the minor reshuffle.
The new Ikoyi Passport Officer, Bewaji, 56, is an an indigene of Ogbomoso, Oyo State and a 1988 graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Ile-Ife. She enlisted in the immigration service on September 24, 1991, participated in the 10th command course in Sokoto in 2019 and passed out with distinction.
Until the latest appointment, she was in charge of irregular migration, visa residency of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and operated from the Lagos State Command office in Alagbon, Lagos.
Between 2005 and 2006, Mrs. Bewaji served at the operation section of the Adamawa State Command and was at the visa counters at the Lagos State command between 2007 and 2016. She was posted to Anambra State command Awka in 2018 where she served with the border management and irregular migration unit.
Speaking on the latest developments, the Immigration boss said the ongoing reform is a comprehensive one aimed at redirecting officers’ orientation in order for the service to reassert its integrity as the face of the country.
He promised to identify and weed out from the service personnel with itchy fingers and poor ethical work attitude, noting that there are still a handful of recalcitrant operatives in the system.
He said officers caught compromising in their duty during his unscheduled visit have been documented and would be disciplined accordingly.
“The laws are there, and so they will be made to face the law. There are about three of them but we are very sure that it is an organised crime. They are not alone but further investigations would reveal that.
“But we will not give up. We inherited a service that Nigeria was proud of and our own legacy cannot be different. We must be remembered for the good that we do. So we pledge our commitment to taking the service to the peak of glory,” Idris said.
The acting CGI called on Nigerians to collaborate with the management in sanitising the service, saying without givers there would be no collectors. He described Bewaji’s posting alongside that of Umar and Bukar as the first phase of the reform process.
“So, the reshuffle is just another step towards sanitising the system.” he said.
Also affected in the new posting is A.I Bambale, who was redeployed from Zone ‘A’ Command Lagos to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja.
A Comptroller of Immigration Service, Bambale swapped place with Sunday James, from the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja. Interestingly, James is the immediate past spokesperson of the service. He was replaced in June this year by Amos Okpu, an Assistant Comptroller of Immigration.