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EXCLUSIVE: Leaked Document Reveals Female Immigration Officers in #DontRushChallenge Video Have Been Punished with “Siberia” Postings

Five female personnel of the Nigeria Immigration Service who were written up for misconduct after appearing in a viral video have been reposted from their current places of assignment in Abuja, Lagos and Enugu and given “graveyard” assignments as far afield as Borno, Kano and Yobe.

It will be recalled that following their appearance in the viral #DontRushChallenge video, Priscilla Irabor, Catherine J. Bakura, Blessing Alfred Udida, Binti I. Attabor and Ockiya Eneni were the subject of a disciplinary memo dated April 15, 2020.

The memo, which found its way into the public space sparked vocal condemnation and protests from civil society organisations, human rights lawyers and the general public.

Pop artist “Falz The Bahd Guy” whose song was used in the video even offered his help to the female officers, raising hopes that they would not be victimised for what many saw as harmless fun that merely portrayed the NIS in a human light.

“Siberia” Postings at Their Own Expense

These hopes appear to have been dashed now, as an official NIS memo leaked exclusively to NewsWireNGR shows that the five officers have been handed punitive and discriminatory postings. The memo confirms that Priscilla IRabor has been transferred from the Lagos State Command to the Nigeria Immigration Training School, Kano (ITSK), while Binti Attabor has been reposted from the service headquarters in Abuja to the Yobe State Command. 

Catherine Bakura has been moved from the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja to the Nigeria Immigration Training School Ahoada, Rivers State, while Blessing Alfred Udida has been moved from the FCT Command to the Akwa Ibom State Command. Finally Ockiya Eneni has been transferred from the CERPAC (Combined Expatriate Residence Permit and Aliens Card) Production facility to the Borno State Command.

The memo also outlines a secondary punitive measure, which is that the relocation will be done at the personal expense of the officers involved, and they have been given just 7 days to report at their new places of assignment.

A source confirmed to NewsWireNGR that the postings represent the outcome of the ‘investigation’ carried out into the alleged indiscipline of the officers in question, as well as an attempt to avoid the expected widespread backlash if they were dismissed or demoted.

The source also stated that while reassigning officers can be spun as a regular operational event in the service with no ulterior motives, it is clearly punitive in this case because from their entire class cohort, only the five officers concerned are being transferred.

“They Didn’t Have to do Anything” – Branding Expert Weighs In

In the light of the PR nightmare that the NIS has created out of what was not a particularly serious situation, NewsWireNGR spoke to a branding and publicity professional to get an expert view on things. Below are a few excerpts from the full chat with Azad Abdullahi, COO and Creative Director at 19fifty Media Ltd:

“The bottom line is that if they [NIS] had done nothing, they would have lost nothing. There was no backlash or negative connotation before they decided to take action, and one can only speculate as to the motives behind how they came about this final decision. […] I could not actually find [any] probably cause to take such actions against these women.

I think this is a lack of understanding that some brands have about how they relate with the public. Public perception and brand positioning-wise, they did not really have to do anything. Being more human does not take anything away from anyone but if culturally speaking, these are the limitations that we have built for ourselves or at least the older generation has set for themselves, then we end up with a situation like this one. […] I guess this will be less of an issue the younger those who make decisions in those organisations are.”

The full chat with Azad is available below:

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