Employment Scam Rocks Human Rights Commission

03 Jan 2013

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AGF and Minister for Justice, Mohammed Adoke (SAN)

Tobi Soniyi

Rumble and complaints have continued to trail the recent employment exercise carried out by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), which is generating some tension within the commission.

A member of the governing council of the NHRC Wednesday in Abuja, said the council was under intense pressure to probe allegation of fraud, which trailed the recent employment at the commission.

The council member, who spoke under anonymity, said the pressure was coming from within and outside the commission.

He said: “Some members of staff who felt short-changed are crying foul. They alleged that some of the newly recruited workers who had not gained admission when they joined the commission were offered grade levels higher than them.

“Right now, there is bad blood in the commission because of the super-cession of several senior and good staff by the newly employed. There is no way the council can ignore these glaring anomalies.”

The council member also alleged that members of the National Assembly, who did not get a chance to partake in the employment were also demanding a probe.

He said the pressure was intense and may force the council to meet this month.

Investigation supported by documents had shown that jobs were given out to people contrary to the provisions of the Federal Character Commission Act at the NHRC headquarters in Abuja.

The shady recruitment exercise doubled the staff strength of the commission from about 288 to 541 without any correspondence increase in the commission’s workload.

Investigation further revealed that about 253 people were hurriedly employed a week before the governing council of the commission was inaugurated.

Under the amended National Human Rights Commission Act, 2010, it is the council that has the powers to authorise employment.

Section 8 (1) provides:  “The council shall have power to appoint directly, and either on transfer or on secondment from any public service in the Federation, such number of employees as may, in the opinion of the Council, be required to assist the Commission in the discharge of any of its functions under this act, and shall have power to pay to persons so employed such remuneration (including allowances) as the Council may determine.

“(2) The terms and conditions of service (including terms and conditions as to remuneration, allowances, pensions, gratuities and other benefits) of the person employed by the Commission shall be as determined by the council from time to time.”

The recruitment also violated Public Service Rules.

Rule no 160301, Section 3, Public Service Rules, 2008 edition provides:  “All appointments to public offices, both senior and junior, in Federal Government parastatals shall be made on the authority of the Boards/Council within the approved manning levels.”

However, in order to over reach the council, circumvent the enabling law and in clear violation of the Federal Character policy, the commission had hurriedly allocated jobs and issued letters of employment to cronies without even inviting them for an interview.

A member of staff of the commission alleged that the stuffing was done on the weekend preceding the Monday, when the council was inaugurated. The council was inaugurated on November 26, 2012 by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister for Justice, Mohammed Adoke (SAN).

The commission in its reaction said it obtained waiver from the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Anyim Pius Anyim to carry out the said employment.

THISDAY gathered that there was no law which confers power on the SGF to violate substantive provisions of existing laws.

The commission admitted that it did not advertise the jobs to allow job seekers apply but said the jobs were advertised on the commission’s website.

 Documents obtained from the commission revealed that no provision was made for the payment of the salaries of the illegally employed workers.

Besides, some were posted to states where the commission had no offices.

“There was no advertisement. No interview. Nigerian youths were not given the opportunity to apply for the jobs but some big men here just issued letters to their brothers and townsmen some of whom do not have the idea of what the commission does,” an aggrieved staff of the commission told our correspondent in confidence.

He explained that the employment was skewed in favour of prominent people including the Commission’s Secretary, Professor Ben Angwe, and Anyim.

It explained that the commission fraudulently disguised the states of the newly employed by listing some of them under the states different from their states of origin. He cited the example of ascribing  Nasarawa State to someone who is from Benue State.

He called on the governing council of the commission to as a matter of urgency re-dress the wrong by giving qualified Nigerians the opportunity to be considered for work at the commission.

One of the beneficiaries of the illegal recruitment who claimed to be a Christian confirmed that he was not invited for an interview and that his letter of employment was brought to him in the house.

Tags: News, Nigeria, Featured, Employment Scam, Human Rights Commission

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