Recent protests by some recruits of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) over the refusal of the Ministry of Interior to deploy them to work after undergoing the necessary training and documentation call for a thorough investigation. The protesters are among the 2000 candidates who were successful in the NIS recruitment exercise of February 2015, out of the 48,747 persons who applied for jobs in the agency. Reports say that they had been given letters of employment, documented and trained in NIS training locations in different parts of the country, last year.
However, the NIS in a letter dated August 20, 2015 and signed by one HY Malgwi, a Deputy Comptroller General of Immigration, later directed all its state Comptrollers to disperse them. The dispersed recruits, who protested in Abuja last week, have issued a statement demanding their reinstatement into the NIS without further delay.
The protesters are among the 2000 Nigerians recruited into the organisation last year by a Presidential Committee set up by the then outgoing president, Goodluck Jonathan, to assist the Immigration Service with the recruitment exercise, following the botched job tests in which about 17 candidates died at various test centres in different parts of the country in 2014.
They were subsequently trained for three months on all aspects of Immigration, including weapon handling, and duly issued appointment letters along with identification cards at the Immigration Training Schools in Kano, Orlu, Imo State and Ahoada, Rivers State, before they were deployed to the various state commands in the country.
The protesters have alleged that instead of looking into their plight, the NIS secretly recruited another set of people who are currently undergoing training at Immigration Schools in Kano and Port Harcourt, respectively.
In view of the weighty nature of this allegation, we call on the Federal Government to dispassionately investigate the matter and ensure that the right thing is done. We say this bearing in mind that government is a continuum. If the immediate past administration conducted a recruitment exercise and those engaged were properly trained and documented, it behooves on the new administration to recognize their status as NIS staff.
The government has so far not explained why the recruits were summarily “dispersed.” If the recruits had actually been given employment letters, the government will need to explain why their employment was upturned. It will be against extant labour laws for them to be summarily dismissed after they had been given appointment letters.
We decry the tardy handling of this matter. This is more so as some of the affected recruits might have resigned from other jobs to take up the job offer. Their disengagement and clandestine replacement with other candidates is questionable. It borders on nepotism and should be investigated to ensure that the recruits were not unfairly treated.
Let all the sacked recruits be reabsorbed into the Service, unless it can be proved that their recruitment was illegal. The government should also streamline recruitment into all the security and paramilitary agencies, to ensure transparency, fairness and adherence to the federal character policy. Recruitments into many of these agencies have not always been transparent or fair. Nepotism has been a common feature of such exercises, and has led to the sack of some of their officials in the past. The NIS is not alone in these opaque recruitments. Other government agencies such as Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) and the Prisons are also widely accused of lack of transparency in their recruitment exercises.
The government should ensure that recruitments into the Federal Civil Service and the security agencies are transparently done, to give a fair chance of access to such jobs to all qualified Nigerians.
The government should quickly redeem itself on this matter. Let there be justice for the protesting NIS recruits.