JOB RACKETEERING AT FEDERAL CHARACTER COMMISSION: CACOL CALLS FOR THOROUGH INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION OF ERRING OFFICIALS
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has called on anti-corruption agencies for necessary investigation of corrupt practices of job racketeering involving some members of staff and management of Federal Character Commission (FCC).
In a release issued by CACOL and signed by Tola Oresanwo, the anti-corruption organization’s Director, Administration and Programmes on behalf of its Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, he stated, “It would be recalled that while testifying at the ongoing investigative hearing by the House of Representatives ad hoc committee investigating federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies, Parastatals, and Tertiary institutions on mismanagement of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), one Mr. Haruna Kolo, an ex-aide to the Chairperson of the Federal Character Commission, Muheeba Dankaka, confessed to selling federal employment slots to job seekers at the directives of his former boss”.
Haruna Kolo who was a former Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System desk officer at the Federal Character Commission, in his testimony, alleged that Ms Dankaka set up a job racketeering ring, collecting money from job seekers. He stated that to avoid digital trails, the FCC boss instructed him to transfer all the money to his (Kolo) personal Ecobank account and pay her in cash which he did a couple of times in her house.
On the allegations of job racketeering, Kolo alleged that the FCC Chairman instructed him to liaise with one Mr Shehu who is a personal driver and Personal Assistant to the Taraba State Commissioner. He also claimed that Shehu is the one that brought those who paid money to his (Kolo) account for job, some paid N1m, others N1.5m, all to his personal Ecobank account which he later gave to the Chairman in cash through POS, so there is no evidence of transfer. Mr Kolo also said the chairperson compensated him, alongside three others, with a job at the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) for the assignments he carried out. He also claimed that one of the beneficiaries of the AMCON job is a sibling of Mrs Dankaka.
As much as we agree that the testimony of Mr. kolo is highly revealing, we are not in any way surprised by his allegations and confessions. The reason is because we had stated in one of our past releases that job racketeering is now the other of the day in virtually all the Ministries and Parastatals of government. It is far easier for a camel to pass through the hole of a needle than for a qualified, young and academically sound Nigerian to secure employment in any of these Ministries based on merit or even Federal Character which in some cases has been used to employ job seekers at the federal level. It is now a norm to sell employment slots, promote mediocrity, employ those with god-fathers, and perpetually keep the children of the poor in the unemployment web just because they cannot afford the humongous amount of money being demanded by these racketeering syndicates domiciled in all federal, state and even local government services, thereby impoverishing them and their parents who have invested a lot on their education.
It should be noted that the Federal Character Commission is a creation of the Constitution with the power to ensure that the composition of the government reflects the federal character of the country. The commission serves as a clearing house for employment by all government agencies.
Section 14(3) provides that “The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few State or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.”
Section 4 of the Federal Character Commission (FCC) Act gives the commission the power “to work out an equitable formula, subject to the approval of the President, for the distribution of all cadres of posts in the civil and the public services of the Federation and of the States, the armed forces, the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies, bodies corporate owned by the Federal or a State Government and Extra-Ministerial Departments and parastatals of the Federation and States.”
“However, over the years, the Federal Character Commission (FCC) has been embroiled in a number of corruption allegations and its primary responsibilities as quoted above has been abused, misused and denigrated contrary to the original intent of those that conceive the idea of its formation in the first place. The noble idea of fostering unity in the area of distribution of all cadres of posts in the civil and the public services of the Federation has now been shamefully and highly commercialized in a way that the highest bidders get the best of positions in these MDAs. This is official Bazzar at the federal level!!!
The anti-graft czar added, “We would have called for total scrapping of the Commission but considering the strategic and critical role of Federal Character Commission (FCC) operations in the country, we are seriously concerned about the enormity of corruption going on in the administration and operations of the Commission, therefore, we would like to commend the House of Representatives for carrying out this investigative hearing, we would also call on the federal government to quickly wade into the Commission’s administration with a view to sanitizing it. We would recommend immediate suspension of the Chair of the Commission and bringing all those responsible for these shameful and despicable acts to book. This is not the time for Anti-graft agencies to slumber; they should rather swing into action and prosecute all those that have been fingered in this revelation so as to serve as a deterrent. More importantly, we hope the allegations will not be swept under the carpet and that the House of Representatives ad hoc Committee should also beam its searchlights on all other MDAs of government.
Director, Administration and Programmes, CACOL