By Francis Emorut
IF corruption is not tamed at the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control Government will not hesitate to close it, the internal affairs, Gen. Aronda Nyakairima, has revealed.
Aronda was addressing immigration officers during the agency’s second pass out at Marine Brigade Headquarters in Buliisa district on Sunday.
He said that corruption at the Immigration department has reached unprecedented levels with officers overcharging foreigners for work permits and citizens’ travel documents.
“Without mincing words if corruption in immigration is not tackled Government will have no choice but to close it,” Aronda said.
Aronda was infuriated because some officials engage in demanding for bribes from citizens and immigrants who want services.
The minister reminded the officers that there was a time when Police was a disgrace but because of government’s commitment it was reformed after the Justice Julia Sebutinde Commission and therefore, they would not be spared.
“There are officers who sell documents under the table I want to warn you that never again shall we tolerate you. Enough is enough,” Aronda said.
The minister told the guests who included military and Police officers, MPs, Immigration board members, directors and commissioners and state minister for Bunyoro region Ernest Kiiza that time has come to transform the agency into an intelligence unit that is conscious with national security.
“We want to institutionalize intelligence units to help in detecting those who are wrong elements,” he said.
“The past would be left out and let bygones be bygones and we move forward to serve our country,” he stated.
On creating a spy unit the minister said that it was only Uganda that was lagging behind and yet countries like Rwanda, US, Canada, Austria and others have their migration departments containing outfits of intelligence apparatus/security.
The minister also told reporters that a commission of inquiry would be instituted at the Immigration department and a way forward would be followed up.
“If corruption is not tackled we will put up a commission of inquiry like the Sebutinde Commission and base on it,” he said.
Aronda was also irked by indiscipline which he termed as “gross indiscipline” in the directorate where officers refuse to accept transfers and sometimes leave border posts unattended.
He cited a case at Malaba border post where an immigration officer went for a Church service and left no one at the station and when a bus carrying school children reached the post, there was no personnel to clear them.
Aronda said fortunately enough there was a parent who had his phone number and called him to address the incident.
“Permanency in work place for years and years. There are people who have been at the headquarters since they graduated and they don’t want to be transferred. If you have been to Malaba why don’t you want to go to Atiak? Indiscipline must end,” he said.
Aronda directed the directors and board members to institute a policy where officers only work for two years and they are transferred to another station.
“By doing this it will help in fighting bad practices,” he said.
The minister urged the immigration officers to equip themselves with a Migration International Law book if they are to abreast themselves with international standards.
Kiiza said the country needs better service delivery and the training of immigration officers that lasted one-half months in intelligence gathering, national security and customer care was timely.