Tension In Immigration Over Plans To Extend Service Of Acting Comptroller General

Acting Comptroller General of Immigration, Carol Adepoju Wura-Ola

By Frank Oshanugor

Uneasy calm now pervades the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) over perceived plans by the Federal government to extend the tenure of the Acting Comptroller General of Immigration, Carol Adepoju Wura-Ola for another six months which is seen as a gross violation of civil service rules in the country.

It will be recalled that on 30th May 2023, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu appointed Adepoju Carol Wura-Ola, a retired officer, as the Acting Comptroller-General. The decision by the president sent shockwaves throughout the nation, with many Nigerians raising concerns over what they perceived as an unlawful act as two other senior officials of the service were seemingly overlooked for the prestigious position.

Her appointment was expected to last for three months which will expire in August. However, according to sources, there are strong indications that she wants it extended for another six months. Investigation reveals that this does not sit well with top officers and men of the Service.

According to an insider who demanded strict anonymity “What makes the situation even more critical is the fact that she has officially retired from the Immigration Service and the Immigration Act does not allow retired personnel to head the service. “Wura was logged out of the system since 30th May, 2023. She has sold the entire Nigeria immigration service out for these two months in acting capacity. She has forgotten that Nigeria Immigration Service is a Paramilitary outfit that has its norms.”

In another startling turn of events, over the unlawful appointment, Abuja-based Legal Practitioner, Maxwell Opara also approached a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to challenge her appointment as the Acting Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS).

Mr. Opara stated that the appointment of Wura-Ola, who has since retired after completing 35 years of service, is illegal.

The suit seeks the interpretation of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 2015, Section 69 of the Immigration (Supplementary Act) 2017, and Section 8 of the Public Service Rules amongst others.

The suit seeks the interpretation of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 2015, Section 69 of the Immigration (Supplementary Act) 2017, and Section 8 of the Public Service Rules amongst others.

Mr. Opara argues that the combined reading of these provisions makes the appointment of a retired officer to the position of Comptroller General very wrong.

AtlanticNewsonline learned that when she was appointed in May, 2023, the legal practitioner also called for action, over what he called ‘the unlawful appointment of a retired Officer as acting Comptroller General of Immigration.’

He described her appointment as illegal, citing section 8 of the Public Service Rule.” and reminded President Tinubu that the Board lacks the authority to extend the retirement age or appoint a retiree as an acting Comptroller-General.

In a strongly worded letter addressed to President Tinubu, Maxwell Opara who is also a human right activist stated that her appointment as the acting CG after her retirement on the 31st day of May 2023, created an ugly, unlawful, illegal, immoral and demoralizing situation within the (NIS).

Opara asserted that Wura-Ola having reached the mandatory retirement age on 31st May 2023, should have retired from the NIS alleging that the Board of Civil Defense, Correctional, Fire and Immigration Service illegally appointed her to the position of acting Comptroller-General through a Memo dated 26th May 2023. Opara emphasized that this appointment contradicts President Tinubu’s commitment to upholding the rule of law.

Expressing concern for the negative impact on the morale and reputation of the service, Opara urged President Tinubu to take immediate action by appointing a qualified serving officer of the NIS as the Comptroller-General.
It was also learned that a retired Immigration officer/Nigeria head of mission, Ambassador Haruna Coomasssie faulted her appointment saying that “Jere was on acting capacity. He left on 29th May, now you are appointing a CG that is retiring tomorrow 31st. It is a regimental agency. She has 24 hours to go with the intention of extending her stay.

Immigration is a professional outfit, a regimental agency on a professional platform. That has been the problem of immigration. Nobody should impose anyone on the service. This is the third woman. We need professionalism.

Let the next in the hierarchy take over. Let the most senior take over. Select a competent, head to take over.”
Her appointment had caused a big uproar two months ago. Many kicked at how Aregbesola appointed the retired female DCG as Immigration boss, days to Buhari’s handover.

She was due for retirement after attaining the mandatory 35 years in service at the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS). She was said to have been appointed by the immediate past Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola before the latter left office as a member of the Federal Executive Council.

Efforts to contact the Public Relations Officer of the service failed as it was said that a new man had just been appointed.

Written by: Frank Oshanugor

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