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This Immigration Comptroller General is excellent – Staffer

*He has changed the face and image of the service

*We are more respected than any other service in Nigeria today

It is not always the case. I saw an Immigration Officer by the Federal Secretariat in Abuja. I was going to pick a staff arriving at the airport and offered to give him a lift to his office which is on my way. As he settled in, I told him, I am a journalist but just offered to lift him since he is in uniform but if he were a policeman, I wouldn’t have given him the lift. We drifted into corruption in Immigration and I got a fill. I have offered not to publish his name but simply referred to him as Joseph. Enjoy my findings.

Muhammad Babandede Comptroller General of Immigrations
Muhammad Babandede Comptroller General of Immigration

I am not defending him but telling you the reality in the Service. I have not met him but I can tell you, no officer in the service is not feeling his impact. For almost my 30 years in service, this is one Comptroller General that realized there was no dream, no vision, no mission in Nigerian Immigration and is piloting us to that depth and direction. You need to see the 5-year strategic roadmap for the service he developed.

“Truly, all of una corrupt for Immigration” I volunteered, Joseph got very angry. “There are massive changes in the Service today. The CG reduced contact between customers and our officers. He started with the cases of married women, change of data. Women can change their data on the passport if they are married, they like to bear the name of their husbands; if they are divorced or lost their husbands and they like to go back to their maiden names. Now, you don’t come to Abuja, do it in your states. Before this time, they used to come to Abuja and wait endlessly. And of course the more you wait the more the tendency (for corruption). In fact, public servants want you to be in a situation where you can be distressed and give money.

Joseph, a double Masters degree holder added, “Immigration have decentralised cases of loss of passport. In the previous time, even when you lose your passport abroad, you have to come to Nigeria. Now, we’ll give you emergency travel certificate to come back home and get the passport. But now we have decentralised it. Immigration officials will now only wait for citizens to send it to us, we check certain indices of data and send approval to the Immigration office to issue. In the near future, we will phase out the approval. It would be only online check that they can conduct and once it is okay they go ahead and issue the passport.

Thirdly, the man has repeatedly told officers “don’t bring returns to me.” If the head says that, the body system will follow. Immigration without doubt is the best organised today in Nigeria. Please go and check.

Do you know that the Comptroller General disguises sometimes as applicants and goes to any command? That has awoken our men up. He visits airports, passport offices, borders etc

One of the occasions, I heard he went to Murtala Mohammed Airport last year April. He posed as a FAAN staff. He worked with other staff for good two hours, they didn’t know he was the one. They never expected the Comptroller General to work as a cleaner. He scattered them after seeing the men work. He caught them red handed. Today, men are more alert.

He caught our men exhibit lack of interest in work, those making phone calls, discussing their businesses while attending to customers. He caught some of our men acting as facilitators, who receive travellers to come and fast-track, which is not happening in normal society. He caught our officers who are not security conscious. Are you aware that Seme border is now sanitised? You are free to go and see sir.

What we read about the man and his modus operandi is different from what you are saying. Jospeh turned with a sharp response, Sir. I am from Ekiti. I am a Christian. The Comptroller General is a Muslim and a northerner. I swear by God, the people doing petitions and spreading online gaffes include the dirty ones in the service who don’t want change and were caught.

I will give you one example I know. The Comptroller in Seme border and five of his men are facing what is called “orderly room trial”. We have officers from the Murtala Mohammed Airport who have already faced disciplinary committee, we have cases of arrested officers in passport offices collecting money. They have written about four petitions I know. They sponsored a junior officer to go to court.

Ask an average Immigration Officer today, a lot has been done in terms of reform for corruption. These are the people making what I will call noise. Majority of us in the service today are happy things are working well.

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