The headquarters of the Nigeria Correctional Services (NCoS), Abuja, has been engulfed in fresh crisis over alleged premature retirement of seven top-ranking officers of the service by the newly appointed Comptroller- General, Haliru Nababa.
The retired officials of the rank of Assistant Comptroller Generals (ACGs) were said to have taken part in the screening and examination as candidates in the selection process that later produced the current Controller General.
Until his appointment, Nababa was head of the Directorate of Finance and Accounts in the organisation.
Before their retirement, the officers were allegedly summoned from various stations outside Abuja to the National Headquarters of the service, purportedly for a meeting with the new CG, but were handed letters of voluntary retirement with effect from June 9, 2021.
According to New Telegraph, the letters had claimed that their retirement followed the extant seniority arrangement in the military and paramilitary services.
The retirement letter, signed by Aisha A. Rufai of CDCFIB reads: “In view of the convention on seniority in the military and paramilitary services in respect to the newly appointed Controller-General, and in addition to other antecedents, you are hereby advised to proceed on voluntary retirement from the service with effect from 9th June 2021.”
But according to a source familiar with the matter, none of the retired officers was senior to the new CG, as evident in the staff nominal roll and all of them have more than two years to go before reaching their retirement age.
“For instance, there are three DCGs who were promoted with effect from January 1, 2019 and 2020, and by that are senior to the CGC, whose date of appointment is April 2021, the source said.
“Surprisingly, the DCGs were left in the service, while the seven ACGs, whose dates of promotional appointment are 1st January, 2018, were asked to retire. It is also curious that the letter of the retirement cited tradition in the Military and Paramilitary.”
The development has continued to elicit reactions, with stakeholders faulting antecedents cited by the NCoS.
“In 1996 when Alhaji Ibrahim Jarma, who was an ACG, was appointed CGP, he worked together with all his superiors and contemporaries. Again, in 2002 when Abraham Akpe was appointed, he worked with all his contemporaries,” the source added.
“Also, in 2006 when Olusola Ogundipe was picked from among the ACGs, he worked with his hitherto superiors. “In 2012 when Zakari Ibrahim (DCG) was appointed, he did the same, as did Dr. Peter Ekpendu in 2014.Similarly, when the immediate past substantive CGP was appointed, he worked with his superior and contemporaries.
“The only senior officer to him, by name Alhaji Aminu Sulley, who wanted to retire, took the matter to court and it was decided in his favour,” the source said.
It is understood that the current crisis was due to the refusal of the new helmsman to follow laid down procedures of compensation packages for retiring officers at the level of ACGs and DCGs.
In one of the letters written to the ACGs by the Service and signed by Yusufu Sambo on behalf of the Comptroller-General, the officers were directed to “handover over all government property in your possession including official car, uniforms….You are also to liaise with the Arms Squad Commander for reissuance of your service pistol”.
“The retired officers were further directed to contact their Pension Fund Administrators in line with the Pension Reform Act 2014, for the processing and payment of any retirement benefits accruable “as a result of your decision”, to retire voluntarily from Service.
Apart from disputing the claims of voluntary retirement, the affected officers said the letter is contrary to the procedure of compensation package as laid down in the Nigeria Correctional Service Gazetted Scheme of Service: Ref No. 56, Vol. 102, pages 313-352 that clearly spelt out the severance package of a retiring ACG.
But spokesperson for the Service, CC Francis Enobore, denied knowledge of the crisis rocking the top hierarchy of the service. “To be honest with you, I’m not aware,” he said.
SaharaReporters, New York