Deji Elumoye in Abuja
The Senate Committee on Establishment has uncovered an employment racket in the Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC), through which no fewer than 80 prospective job seekers were defrauded of over N20 million.
Chairman of the Committee, Senator Emmanuel Paulker (PDP, Bayelsa Central), made this known in Abuja yesterday while three members of the commission were being screened by the committee for re-appointment as commissioners.
According to him, over 80 job seekers were recently reported to have been swindled of N250, 000 each for employment into federal civil service which turned out to be fake.
Paulker, described the scandal as a “huge embarrassment to the country and should not have been swept under the carpet.”
He said the committee will like to know what role the nominees who are being screened for re-appointment played in the scandal.
The FCSC is the executive body that has the authority to make appointments, transfers and exercises disciplinary control over all federal civil servants.
Paulker wondered why the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Offences Commission (ICPC) that investigated the scandal failed to make its report available to the committee upon request.
The Senator further said the alleged racket was so serious especially when the seal of the commission was used by the racketeers, adding that while few of those who got appointment letters started work “others worked for over three months and had to be stopped when the scandal blew open.”
Paulker noted that it was all the more shocking to discover that some commissioners who served during the period were fingered to have been involved in the deal.
The Committee therefore took on the three Commissioner-Nominees- Alhaji Ibrahim Mohammed (Kaduna); Professor Aminu Sheidu (Kogi) and Simon Etim (Akwa Ibom), to tell members what they knew about the fake appointment letters.
In his response, Mohammed told the committee that the issue came up several times but nobody accepted responsibility.
According to him, FCSC resolved that the issue should be thoroughly investigated hence its invitation of the ICPC to probe the scandal, adding that he was not invited by the ICPC during its investigation.
On his part, Sheidu also confirmed that the issue was investigated but noted that what actually happened was that “our procedure was not followed by our Chairman, Deaconess Tolani Ayo.”
“At a point in time, the chairman (of the commission) was by-passing the commissioners and was issuing directives to the director of recruitment. On several occasions, some commissioners confronted the chairman.”
He noted that what further escalated the issue was that the chairman unilaterally fixed a date and asked MDAs to delist those who were recruited during the period.
The decision of the chairman to unilaterally delist some recruits, he said, did not go down well with most of the commissioners.
In his response, Etim also alleged that the unilateral decisions taken by the FCSC Chairman fuelled the recruitment scandal
According to him, the chairman never brought the issue of delisting some recruits to the commissioners for ratification
He noted that as soon as he became the acting chairman, he invited all those delisted to appear to defend how they got their appointment letters, adding that those who were able to defend their letters of appointment were recommended for reinstatement.