For refusing to breach the immigration protocol to favour a senior officer, Yemi Badru, a Deputy Superintendent of Immigration formerly attached to the Ikoyi Passport Office, is being persecuted by his superiors.
On July 31, 2019, Nasir Umah, the personal assistant to the Passport Comptroller and Badru’s senior colleague, accused him of taking too long to attend to people.
“I told him the signal was poor. At the time, I had 37 applicants at my desk. I suspected that he wanted to help an applicant avoid waiting in line. So, I told him I was still going to do my job regardless. But he didn’t like the statement. He started cursing me,” Badru told FIJ.
Despite feeling uncomfortable with the names Umah had called him, Badru (pictured above) kept on attending to applicants. Umah then slapped him several times in annoyance.
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To avoid further escalation, Funsho Alao, the Ikoyi Chief Immigration Superintendent, rushed to the scene and met with Badru on the ground.
“Alao took me to his office, as he didn’t want the problem to get worse. It was in his office that blood began to drip out of my nose. Then I obtained permission to go to the clinic. At the immigration clinic, they said I should go somewhere else because I was bleeding inside,” Badru said.
“I went to the military hospital in Ikoyi to avoid worsening things. But they insisted at the hospital that until I obtained a police report, they wouldn’t help me. I had to go to the Ikoyi Police Station for documentation before they could attend to me.”
After three days, DCI Manniryari, the Passport Comptroller, called Badru, telling him that he received a call from Abuja. Manniyeri said nobody told him about the incident at the office, but he got a letter from Abuja.
“The Passport Controller wrote to PWD Ikeja’s command, advising him to appease me and silence the matter,” Badru said.
“Even though he admitted that I was attacked and that I did not attempt to retaliate, he suggested that the command did its best to defuse the problem as the police, army, and a lawyer were already involved. But that wasn’t true.”
On August 7, 2020, the command reached out to him and asked that he forgave Umah. The command asked Umah to write an apology letter, adding that Badru must accept the letter. Later, the command wrote a report stating that Umah should be suspended for three weeks.
“That never happened, though,” Badru said.
He told FIJ that the command asked him not to grant interviews to journalists. But by then, media houses had already published the story.
“The command was upset when The Guardian published the assault on me. They said I was on press rides. Next, they recommended that I appeared before the Senior Staff Disciplinary Committee for dismissal,” he said.
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“On seeing that, I discussed with lawyers who worked at the National Industrial Court in Lagos. The court ruled that they should not touch the subject matter, but they did not listen,” he said.
For going to court, they transferred him from Ikoyi to Abuja. In Abuja, his ordeal became worse.
“In the transfer letter, they wrote that I had requested to be transferred and, as a result, I would not get any allowance. The letter also said that I enjoyed my annual leave. Since then, I haven’t written a promotional test or been promoted,” he said.
Even though Umah is yet to be punished, Badru pleaded with his superiors in Abuja to let him go back to Lagos as he was yet to fully recuperate from the injuries he sustained in the assault. But no one listened to him. His crime, according to the men in Abuja, was making the matter public.
“I began to ask if reporting an assault to the police made it public, but no one could answer me. I told the disciplinary committee I had not provided any official information to the press. Then, the committee said they would make peace between me and Umah,” Badru said.
Badru’s attacker was promoted, but he was not. He wrote to several agencies on the issue, but nothing was done.
“When I realised there was no way I would get justice from the NIS, the Board, Ministry of Interior and the National Assembly, I decided to approach the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, Lagos, to restrain NIS and secure justice,” said Badru.
“The case was quashed by the court on May 21, 2021, because we did not give prior notice of action to the Nigerian Immigration Service. That same day, I received another query with a false allegation of absenteeism. Whereas, I was always at work. The query signed by one ACI Nwachukwu was backdated by three months to frustrate me out of getting justice.”
Badru wrote to CSP Ajisebutu, the spokesperson for the Lagos State Police Command, requesting his timely intervention on the matter, but he was told to take it up with NIS management as they were shielding the suspect, preventing the police from carrying out their lawful duty.
When FIJ contacted the police officer handling the case, who was simply identified as Ayodele, he declined to comment. Grace Uju, the 2019 Ikoyi Passport Office PRO, also refused to comment, while Abdullahi Liman, head of the Ikoyi Passport Office, spoke like a northerner and claimed our reporter dialed the wrong number.
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