Details of the reason why the federal government sacked Rosemary Chinyere Uzoma as controller-general of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) emerged yesterday. Insider sources spoke on her tenure in the organisation.
Mrs Uzoma, who was appointed the second female controller-general of the NIS following the sudden death of her predecessor in office, Mrs Rosemary Nwizu, allegedly incurred the wrath of the government due to various misdemeanours such as sending her cousins and? other lower-cadre staff on foreign intervention programmes meant for senior NIS personnel.
Before her appointment as the NIS boss, Mrs Uzoma held sway in Anambra State and later served as the controller of immigration at the African Affairs in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
According to her colleagues and some of her subordinates, Uzoma spared no love for persons from regions of the country other than her native Abia State, and particularly those from Umuahia. She allegedly posted her relations to “juicy positions within the service”.
For instance, a source disclosed that four of her first cousins, from the Nwabueze family, were sent on foreign intervention missions to choice countries like the United Kingdom and the United States. One of the Nwabuezes, an inspector in the service at the time of posting in 2006, had since relocated his family to the US,? but now lives on the bills of the NIS.
Comfort Nwabueze, a typist in Festac Passport Office, another of her first cousins in Lagos, was also sent on foreign intervention trips about three or four times. This was also courtesy of Uzoma, who also ensured that Comfort remained at the Festac office, a three-minute walk from her house.
Most startling of the revelations about the sacked NIS chief is the fact that even with the much-touted fool-proof nature of the Nigeria e-passport, some foreigners, particularly Ghanaians and Beninois who are commercial vehicle drivers on the Lagos-Badagry-Seme-Cotonou international route, have Nigeria’s e-passport.
It was also learnt that, in a move to demonstrate her love and commitment to her marriage and her husband’s kinsmen in Nkwerre, Imo State, Uzoma turned recruitment in the NIS to a family affair when she allegedly announced at a Town Hall meeting that the youths of Imo State origin who are interested in being recruited into NIS should make their intentions known. This gesture, expectedly, threw up an army of applicants, several of whom eventually got recruited into the NIS, not necessarily out of merit but on the basis of tribal and marital ties.
When LEADERSHIP WEEKEND confronted Mrs. Uzoma with some of these allegations through a text message, her response was prompt: “You may wish to get in touch with my PA on these issues.”
At the NIS headquarters in Sauka, Abuja, Uzoma‘s PA, Dominique Asogwu, simply explained that the allegations against the former NIS chief were incorrect. “These allegations against the CG are not true. They are unfair. It wasn’t she who tilted the Imo State figure high. Remember, the recruitment board have had two chairmen who were of Imo State extraction. They may have wittingly or unwittingly done this before the CG assumed office.”?
Sources said Uzoma also had problem with interior minister Abba Moro because “the minister equally wanted more of his people in other choice and juicy states like Ogun, Kano, Lagos and Akwa Ibom states. Others are Rivers and Cross River states, but Uzoma was also bitterly fighting for her own people”.
They alleged that the minister ordered the posting of a new officer to the Festac passport office as the new passport officer, but Mrs. Uzoma disregarded it and returned her favourite to the office. Also, the helmsman of the Ogun State command, who is reported to be a candidate of a former president without throwing a fight, allegedly reported to the Nigerian leader, who in turn called President Goodluck Jonathan to ensure the CG reversed the appointment.
President Jonathan was said to have ordered the interior minister to reverse the postings but a vehemently adamant Uzoma would take none of that, a situation which led to her sack last week by the president.