Five Female Officers Of The Nigerian Immigration Service Face Dismissal Over "Bop Daddy" Video

On Wednesday, April 15 2020, a letter emanating from the Office of the Deputy Comptroller General of the National Immigration Service was issued to officers of the Service who had engaged in a viral social media #BopDaddyChallenge in their uniforms.

The video displayed five female officers' transformation from their uniforms into their civilian clothes. 

The letter signed by Iam Haliru Assistant Comptroller General on behalf of the Comptroller General described the video as 'as a rather disturbing and embarrassing display of indecent flaunting…'

The letter goes further '… your act has caused a lot of embarrassment to the NIS and in line with our standard as a paramilitary organization is considered scandalous, and an act unbecoming of an officer and is, therefore, a violation of PSR 030401 and 030402. This is a serious misconduct liable to dismissal from the Service'. 

The officers involved were invited to make a representation within 72 hours of the receipt of the letter, explaining why they should not face disciplinary action.'

'In view of the foregoing, therefore, you are requested to make a representation if any within 72 hours of the receipt of this letter, why disciplinary action should not be taken against you, for violation of the following:

PSR 030301 (a)(i) – Immoral Behavior 

PSR 030402 (t) – Sabotage

PSR 030402 (w) – Any other act unbecoming of a Public Officer.' 

Initially, the letter was directed to three of the officers in the video, Priscilla Irabor, Catherine Bukura and Blessing Udida, however, it appears that all five of them will face disciplinary action.

The Nigerian Immigration Service, like any other paramilitary organization in Nigeria, has very strict rules guiding the code of conduct of its officers. However, the disciplinary action against these officers raises a few legal questions:

  1. Does the NIS provide for certain that are prohibited?
  2. Do those prohibitions have punishments attached to them?
  3. What is the procedure for punishing said acts?
  4. Have these officers been in breach and committed these prohibited acts? 
  5. If yes, had the proper procedure for punishment been followed? 

The officers have been accused of 'Immoral Behaviour', 'Sabotage', and 'Any other act unbecoming of a public officer'.

An act can be immoral and illegal, an act can also be only immoral or only illegal, however, it is only acts that are illegal, whether they are immoral or not, that can be punished by law. 

Immorality is not punishable by law, illegality is. The letter by the NIS doesn't state what an 'immoral behavior' entails, it only lays an accusation against the officers. 

Irrespective of what the NIS recognizes as acts punishable by dismissal or suspension from the Service, the Fundamental Rights that these officers enjoy, as entrenched in the Constitution of Nigeria, supersede the internal regulations of the Agency. 

The Freedom of expression and Dignity to their human person that these women have are protected by the Constitution.

The letter by the NIS to the officers sparked outrage among social media users who, after viewing the video in question, did not consider it to be 'immoral' or 'scandalous'. 

Actress Stella Damascus in response to the video of the officers and the letter by the NIS, shared this in a tweet, 'I had prepared a speech but let me just leave it alone. I need the full video so I can post and celebrate these beautiful women. Clear case of misplaced priority on the part of this agency.'

Ayo Sogunro, a lawyer tweeted, 'We must stop the ridiculous trend of universities, politicians and govt. agencies policing people online. The fact that people work for you does not mean that they no longer have constituted freedoms. Focus on your legal duties and stop using govt. power to enforce personal beliefs'.

Oloye Akin Alabi, a Lagos lawmaker, also tweeted, 'Disgraceful from Nigerian Immigration Service to query these women for this. In a world where we continue to fight for the rights of women, a national agency is trampling upon them. Would they have been queried if they were men? I will be supporting these women through it all.'  

Segun Awosanya, Segalink, a respected activist on Twitter, also shared his opinion, 'There isn't enough grounds to vilify them for this. If anything at all they can be cautioned. I believe the message is actually positive. There are ladies out there serving their country, proud of their work and loving their life. It is nothing negative. They should reach out.'

He goes further, 'These letters are shameful and vindictive. It will be challenged. Women must never be treated like this ever in any organization. Ladies in the military take pictures how much more a paramilitary organization. #EndVictimizationOfWomen'

The #Immigration5 is already circulating social media, calling for the protection of these women from the decision of the Nigerian Immigration Service. 

Female officers of the United States of America's Army also participated in the social media challenge. Theirs was the #DontRushChallenge, transforming from their uniforms into their civilian clothes.

There have been no reports of disciplinary action against them. Rather their video has fostered a sense of connection to the force and respect for the work that these women do. And in a time like this, where the world is trying to hold on to hope, simple acts of solidarity increase the bond that we all share  

This was an opportunity for the NIS to humanise the agency, in a move of solidarity, but that was not the route taken here.

We await the results of the disciplinary hearing. 


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