Human rights activist, Inibehe Effiong, has threatened to sue the Federal Government over the decision of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to extend the tenure of retired Deputy Comptroller-General of Immigration, Isah Jere, as the acting Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service.
Effiong said it was unfortunate that Buhari had continued to bastardise the public service.
He wondered why the President could not appoint a substantive immigration boss out of the dozens of qualified officers.
Newsmen reports that the Federal Ministry of Interior had conducted a test and interview for several officers and had picked three as the best.
A letter dated March 15, 2022 was subsequently conveyed to Buhari for approval. Jere, who has turned 60, was due for retirement on April 24, and was not among those considered for the top job.
However, it was learnt that some people at the Presidential Villa were able to prevail on the president to retain Jere for the next one year.
Jere will be leaving in April 2023 barely a month before Buhari exits.
A top source said, “Three senior officers had passed and had been interviewed and their names had been forwarded to the president by Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola.
“Jere was not among them. However, he continued to lobby the presidency and found favour among Buhari’s kitchen cabinet members who decided to influence the president to retain him.”
Reacting to the development, Effiong said he would be instituting a court case to challenge Buhari’s abuse of civil service rules.
He said, “An acting appointment can only be valid if that person holding it in acting capacity is eligible to hold it in a permanent capacity. So, if somebody has lost a legal basis to hold a position in acting capacity, he cannot be appointed to act in that same capacity.
“So, the extension by the president is not valid in law and I do not think that can stand.This incident is evidence of what has become the endemic corruption and disregard for rule of law by Buhari because this is not the first time he will make an appointment that is contrary to the law. It shows he prioritises nepotism over national interest.
“There is nothing extraordinary about the tenure that makes him indispensable. We will look into it because I don’t think it should be allowed to continue. We will consider public service litigation to challenge the re-appointment.”
When contacted, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, simply confirmed the extension of Jere’s tenure.
When contacted the Media Adviser to the Minister of Interior, Sola Fasure, said the appointment of head of agency was political, adding that the president has the discretion to retain even after the expiration of his appointment or do otherwise.
He said, “All appointments are at the pleasure of the president. There is a level you get to in public service that your appointment becomes political. The headship of any agency is political and the appointment is at the pleasure of the president.”