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Staff petition exposes Rauf Aregbesola’s Interior Ministry of corruption, fraud in last 2 years



Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola
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The Federal Ministry of Interior has been described by staff working in the Ministry as one of the most corrupt and fraudulent agency of government for the past two years due to activities of one, Barr.

Moremi Soyinka-Onijala and her collaborators in office.

In a written petition signed by the trio of Mr. Femi Adewale, Jimoh Abdukarim Sule, and Ikenna Maurice addressed to the Honourable Minister of Federal Ministry of Finance, a copy of which was made available to CAPITAL POST in Abuja on Thursday, petitioners maintained that events in the Interior Ministry in the last two has brought it under negative public glare.

In the petition titled: “THE ROTS WITHIN: THE FRAUDULENT MANEUVERS OF BARR. (MRS.) MOREMI SOYINKA- ONIJALA AND HER COLLABORATORS IN THE FEDERAL MINISTRY OF INTERIOR”, petitioners alleged that business permit applications are processed after gratification and bribe to the officers in charge.

They averred that files of applications are heaped on the table of one Mrs Moremi Soyinka-Onijala due to delays as she awaits applicants to approach her before taking action.

The petition reads: “The Ministry of Interior could undoubtedly be described as the bedrock of the nation, given its core mandates of formulating and implementing policies and programmes that enhance internal security, public safety, enabling business environment for domestic and foreign investors and the maintenance of citizenship integrity, which is foundational to all other ministries.

Mrs Moremi Soyinka-Onijala

“But the events of the last two years have brought the ministry under serious negative glare.

“The principal character in this theatre of the absurd is Mrs. Moremi Soyinka-Onijala, the Director in charge of Citizenship and Business Department, (C&D) at the Federal Ministry of Interior FMI, who has deliberately refused to process and forward mountains of applications for expatriate quota/business permit for approvals, except and until after robust gratification from frustrated and highly embittered applicants. Unfortunately, she has the backing of the high and mighty in the Ministry.

“To bring about her nefarious activities, Mrs. Onijala surreptitiously began by redesigning the Directorate after her own image for pecuniary gains, thereby putting herself in competition with the Ministry.

“Hitherto, there were two divisions, headed by Deputy Directors, one, in charge of Business, and the other Citizenship. But without recourse to appropriate authorization and due process, she created a third division called, Enforcement, Investigation and Inspection, headed by a Deputy Director in person of Akinyola Michael Adesina, hand-picked from the Ministry of Finance by Mrs Moremi Onijala.

“But she achieved this racket by stealthily selecting her in-house staff, complemented by a bunch of rogue external consultants, privately contracted by her. She then proceeded to change the mode of operations, introduced bizarre procedures that are repugnant to laid down rules and regulations.

“Since her cruel and vicious scheme began about two years ago, it has been a season of unending delays, one of her core signature antics, thereby resulting in a pile of untreated applications with negative impact on inflow of foreign direct investment into the country, a core priority of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

“By extant laws, the Nigeria Immigration Service is conferred with the responsibility on matters and day-to-day enforcement of expatriate quota monitoring exercise.

“Contrary to extant rules and regulations, Mrs. Moremi Soyinka-Onijala unilaterally commandeered their responsibility, via her letters ref. no. MIA/B. S/80 and MIA/B.138/S.597/1/86 dated 9th February, 2021 and 9th April, 2021, titled; Expatriate Quota Monitoring Exercise in which she quoted obsolete Act that was repealed in 2015.

“Piqued by this outright abuse of laid down procedure, the then Comptroller-General of Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS, Muhammad Babandede, wrote the Minister of Interior (Attention; Director, Citizenship and Business Department) elucidating why her actions were unconstitutional and as such illegal by copiously quoting the enabling Acts, via his letter dated 4th June 2021, marked NIS/HQ/I&C/INV/14596 (Appendix I). He began by educating the Ministry and the mischief making Director that, the powers conferred on the Citizenship and Business Department of the ministry of Interior to monitor and execute expatriate quota positions, was based on Immigration Act 1963 which was repealed by the Immigration Act 2015.

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“He concluded by saying that the “provisions of section 2 (a-f) of the Immigration Act, 2015, and sections 52 (6,7 & 8) and 53 of the Immigration Regulation 2017, made monitoring and enforcement of expatriate quota administration the exclusive preserve of the NIS.”

“He reiterated that the “responsibility for operational matters and day to day enforcement of the Act has been statutorily conferred on the Service and cannot be performed by any person or body”.

“Despite the clarity of the Comptroller General’s letter, the Director went ahead to arbitrarily create an Inspectorate Unit headed by her preferred staff pulled from other MDAs with a singular aim of exercising/maintaining absolute control, even after retirement.

“Mrs. Soyinka-Onijala’s interests as a civil servant conflict with that of her employer over revenue collection and usage.

“In a more detestably scandalous manner, payments are deposited into different accounts created for the purpose instead of REMITA/TSA, prompting stakeholders and Ministry staff to wonder why she has been left unsanctioned.

“With this array of irregularities and impunity, the Director’s actions and inactions are not only stifling the rule of law, but an unmitigated recipe for criminality and outright disregard for laid out rules and regulations.

“The pathetic story of M. D & CO MEGA BUSINESS LTD gives an insight into how these criminal horde operates. Frustrated and embittered, Peter Oluwashola Asa, Esq. of Sapphire Juris Attorneys petitioned the Minister on behalf of his client on 1st November 2021, titled, Petition Against the Director of Citizenship & Business Department (Barr. Mrs. Moremi Soyinka Onilaja for Deliberate Refusal to Forward Our Client’s Expatriate Quota/Business Permit Application Upward for Further Approval (Appendix II).

“He stated that sometimes in July 2021, after series of unsuccessful attempts to see her “due to refusal by her [Mrs. Soyinka-Onijala] personal assistants to complaints of incessant delays of our client’s applications on her dashboard, the Director, when we finally saw her, merely condemned our client’s application verbally as ‘unsatisfactory’ as against querying it on her dashboard as is the standard procedure.

“The Director then gave us a hand written note to one Oladoyin Ogunsina of Doychris Consult, for yet another feasibility study report in replacement of the one already uploaded for our client’s application on the ministry’s portal.

“Doychris consult insisted we pay N150,000 (one hundred and fifty thousand naira) outside the officially stipulated charges which we paid into her personal account number 0030198145, Guarantee Trust Bank, but several months down the line, nothing has been done.

“Perhaps, it was based on this litany of complaints that the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council PEBEC, led by the Vice President Yemi Osibanjo issued a letter to the Minister of the Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, on June 1st 2021, accusing the ministry of unnecessary delay in the issuance of expatriate quota and introducing procedures that are ‘inimical to the ease of doing business’.

“For the records, an expatriate quota is a form of approval granted to organizations and registered companies to employ the services of expatriates with relevant competences.

“And part of the ongoing problems is the inability of expatriates to renew their work permits due to the failure of the Director to attend to the applications for several months as a result of some extraneous “reforms” introduced by her unnecessary fiddling.

“In the letter titled ‘Ease of Doing Business intervention: Escalation on matters arising at the Ministry of Interior in respect of business permit and expatriate quota processes’, Aregbesola was asked to address the matter as quickly as possible (Appendix III). Dr Jumoke Oduwole, Secretary to PEBEC, who is also the Special Adviser to the President on Ease of Doing Business, EDB said the Enabling Business Environment Secretariat (EBES), since its inception has collaborated with and supported the Federal Ministry of Interior (FMI) in implementing reforms which have overtime, made it easier for wholly foreign or joint venture companies to apply for and obtain their Business Permit (BP) and Establishment Grant of Expatriate Quota (EQ) positions.

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“The most notable reform implemented by the FMI in relation to this process, the statement further averred, is the commencement of the full online automation project tagged the ‘ecitibiz’ which successfully migrated the manual paperwork of processing BP and EQ applications online.

“Dr. Oluwole wanted some answers to some questions. One of which is, if on the FMI’s ecitibiz website, the stipulated timeline for the completion of the approval process in respect of BP and EQ applications is Eight (8) weeks, why are several stakeholders whose businesses have been negatively impacted as a result of these challenges and who have been unable to obtain the necessary permits and approvals (geared towards establishing their businesses) waiting for more than six (6) months to obtain it?

“The resultant effect of this anomaly, the statement further stated, is that foreign investors who need these approvals to commence their businesses, including engagement of Nigerian staff have had to wait for months without any idea of when their respective applications would be approved.

“As if this is not enough, business plans have been compromised, thereby negatively impacting on the Federal Government’s earnest efforts to attract foreign Direct Investments (FDI’s) to boost the Nigerian Economy and increase job opportunities for Nigerians. In other words, the current situation serves as a disincentive to companies wishing to come and do business in Nigeria.

“The Secretariat reiterated that this delay is not only choking Foreign Direct Investment in the country, it is equally preventing foreign investors from bringing in their participating funds and equipment into the country.

“Participating funds from expatriates, it must be understood, forms a large amount of operational cost for many firms in the manufacturing industry. Another consequence of this delayed approvals is the inability to renew Combined Expatriate Resident Permit and Aliens Card (CERPAC) and to travel in and out of the country. Consequently, they cannot bring in required expatriate skills, and businesses cannot be established in terms of business permit applications.

“In Nigeria, expatriate quota applications come after the registration of company by the foreigners seeking to migrate into the country to carry out permanent work. After a successful application and the approval of expatriate quota, the business would be in a position to process, Subject to Regularization Visa (STRV) for its expatriates.

“This will enable the expatriates to get the mandatory Combined Expatriate Resident Permit and Aliens Card CERPAC that would allow them to live and work in the country. Ordinarily, Expatriate Quota doesn’t automatically grant CERPAC, except that it might serve as a short-term stay during the pendency of an application to renew the CERPAC.

“This is why firms are groaning as the ministry delays the quota approvals. Government cannot claim to be trying to simplify the ease of doing business and at the same time delaying approvals.

“The EBES Secretariat then suggested a review of the timelines so as to introduce a measure of certainty to this process to enable stakeholders make informed business decisions given the current uncertain timelines for processing relevant applications at the FMI.

“Also, manual compilation of documents and reverification process after approval of application was done on the online portal should be jettison so as to destroy the undue delays in the commencement of businesses by relevant stakeholders.

“For the records, EBES of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) is an agency in the Presidency that collaborates with Ministries, Departments and Agencies together with the National Assembly, the Judiciary and various State Governments whose primary responsibility is implementing reforms targeted at progressively making Nigeria an easier place to do business.

“From inception, EBES has collaborated with and supported the Federal Ministry of Interior (FMI) in implementing reforms which has overtime made it easier for wholly foreign or joint venture companies to apply for and obtain their business permit BP and Establishment Grant of Expatriate Quota EQ positions.

“Therefore, one might reasonably think that FMI might take them seriously and amend their ways, but rather than heed the various suggestions of EBES, stakeholders and some concerned FMI staff, the Director of C&D and her retinue of henchmen who clearly operate with the blessing of the Minister and Permanent Secretary, have continued their destructive criminal activities unabated to the detriment of Nigeria’s corporate interest.

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“In fact, madam Onijala boasts of enjoying the unfettered protection of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan, whom she claims is her sister, friend and backbone in the service, which probably explains why she has operated with impunity and gone scot-free.

“Frustrated and discontented by the scams and underhand dealings of Mrs. Onijala and her Department, the PEBEC calls for action must not be ignored, if the Federal Government desires to make appreciable progress with the Ease of Doing Business initiative.

“For instance, since her assumption of duty, the Department, which used to be the cash cow of the Ministry has lost its mojo as she now endures dwindling revenue as a result of the stalling and congestion created by Madam Onijala.

“Bothered by numerous complaints from the public, pertaining protracted application process with files staying as long as eight months, beyond the mandatory eight weeks, based on C&D’s Service Level Agreement (SLA), the PEBEC embarked on a mystery shopping exercise to see things for itself.

“It was therefore most bewildering for the PEBEC to discover that almost eight (8) months after submitting its report to the Minister, nothing had changed. Instead the situation tended towards getting worse. Consequently, the PEBEC issued a circular to the Minister on February 18th, 2022 Ref. no PEBEC/EBES/MI/2022024 titled, re; report on the mystery shopping exercise of the business permit and expatriate quota application process (APPENDIX IV) expressing utter regret about the lack of will to intervene and rein in the excesses of Mrs. Soyinka-Onilaja and her Department.

“Mrs. Moremi Onijala was actually smuggled into the civil service after her appointment as an aid in the Presidency under Dr. Goodluck E. Jonathan. Her entry and subsequent accelerated promotion and plum posting was unprecedented.

“Her foray into the civil service some few years ago elicited great interest and this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Mrs. Moremi Soyinka-Onijala is a trained lawyer and being a scion of Wole Soyinka, the Nobel Laureate, the expectation was that, she was coming with a patriotic zeal and unmatched commitment to duty, but regrettably, the reverse is the case, given the avalanche of disaster that her tenure as the Director, Citizenship and Business Department has brought to light.

“These treaties from NIS, EBES and other stakeholders, periscope the fact that, an entrenched group of hardened crooks are embedded in the FMI and only a surgical operation can clinically remove them, hence this petition to you.

“The National Geographic Channel once told a story of a parasite louse called (Cymothoa exigua). This parasite enters the fish through the gills and then cuts the fish’s tongue, and becomes the new tongue, and thus takes over every food that the fish gets.

This makes the fish a mere container that nurture and feed the parasite until the fish dies of starvation and the parasite completes its task with another victim. But there is a solution.

“Sometimes, the fish asks for help from one of the cleaned shrimps called “Pederson Shrimp”, who plays the role of a rescuer and extracts the parasite and kills it immediately. The Federal Ministry of Interior is currently infested with a Cymothoa Exigua in the person of Barr. Mrs. Moremi Soyinka Onijala, Director, C&D and a help is being asked of a Pederson Shrimp to rescue the Ministry from this hydra headed monster called Cymothoa Exigua (Barr. Mrs. Moremi Soyinka Onijala). Who will bell the cat? Are you ready to be a Pederson Shrimp? Help the future of your children by being a Pederson Shrimp and make Nigeria Great Again, the petition concluded.

Effort by CAPITAL POST to reach Mrs Moremi Soyinka-Onijala was unsuccessful as her MTN line has been switched off.


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