Heads roll in federal civil service over employment racketeering

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Some top Federal Civil Servants have been fired for allegedly extorting about N160 million from desperate job seekers.

The deal was carried out in one of the parastatals under the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture during the last dispensation, it was revealed Friday.

Information and Culture Minister Lai Mohammed said the dismissed officials collected N400, 000 each from 400 people whose names were then included in the Integrated Payroll and Personnel System (IPPIS).

Mohammed, at a meeting with On-Air-Personalities in continuation of his five-day consultations with critical stakeholders in the media industry, said the culprits included Grade Level 17 officers in the parastatal.

“The first scandal I met in one of the parastatals when I assumed office was the illegal employment of 400 people,” he said.

“This scandal started with very senior officers up to level 17 in that department. They sent out letters and text messages asking people to apply for jobs for a fee of N400, 000 and they were given letters of employment.

“They did not stop there. They invited these people to go and be captured on the IPPIS and they even took cameras to hotels to get them captured. At the end of the day the bubble burst.

“One of the victims told these officials, ‘you cannot take my money and still disengage me. I have a valid letter.’

“That was how we got to know that there was a dedicated account these people paid into. Of course, we dismissed these officials and we even handed them over to the Police,“ the Minster said.

Mohammed said that the incident showed how faulty the IPPIS was and how it had been compromised by unscrupulous elements.

He said that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari was doing all it could to make the IPPIS tamper-proof and guide it from people who might want to load ghost workers on it.

He described On-Air Personalities as very important in the media industry and urged them to leverage on their platforms to educate the people on government`s policies.

The minister said the current war against corruption was a war of survival for the nation and urged all Nigerians to give it the necessary support.

Only last week, Communications and Technology Minister, Adebayo Shittu, suspended the Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Peter Jack indefinitely for “misconduct”.

The suspension, according to Minister’s Special Assistant on Media Victor Oluwadamilare, was on the strength of petitions over alleged wrong doings in NITDA and subsequent preliminary findings of an Investigative Committee set up by the Ministry.

Oluwadamilare said: “The petitions against Jack relate to illegal employments not approved by the appropriate authority and procurements carried out in direct contraventions of laid down rules and procedure unknown to Civil Service administration in Nigeria.”

He added:” Some of the infractions identified by the Investigative Committee made up of three senior Ministry officials include unauthorised illegal recruitment of additional staff totalling 245 within a spate of seven months.

“According to the Committee’s startling findings, “as at 29th May, 2015, NITDA only had a staff complement of 74. But from May, 2015 to 31st December, 2015, additional 245 staff were employed in questionable circumstances despite clear instruction from the Ministry directing suspension of employment in the Agency.

“These disclosure were deduced from the records provided by Jack, although he was unable to provide concrete information on whose authority he embarked on the massive recruitment and who granted him the authority for officials to be seconded to NITDA from other MDAs,” the statement added.

“Prior to this development, the suspended DG was specifically directed by the Ministry not to embark on a recruitment exercise purported to have been scheduled for 17th December, 2015, but he defiantly went ahead to recruit without authority.”

Soon after President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office in May last year, the federal government suspended the last recruitment into the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) conducted on the directives of the immediate past President, Goodluck Jonathan between March and April 2015.

The Board of Prisons, Immigration, Civil Defence and the Fire Service directed immediate suspension of every activity related to the recruitment until further notice.

The NIS headquarters instructed State Commands and heads of training institutes to recall newly recruited persons sent for training at the Immigration Service Training Schools at Orlu, Kano and Ahoada.

During the now suspended employment exercise, less than 5,000 Nigerians, including candidates of families that lost loved ones in the botched 2014 recruitment that resulted in the death of about 15 applicants were enlisted and sent for training to become personnel of the service.

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