FG To Sanction FIRS, NNPC, Other MDAs For Backdoor Recruitment

Some federal ministries, departments and agencies have continued to engage in backdoor recruitment despite the employment embargo imposed by the Federal Government since 2020, findings by our correspondents have revealed.

The Federal Government has, however, threatened to sanction those involved in the illegality, including the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation Limited, Central Bank of Nigeria and the Nigeria Customs Service, among other MDAs.

Investigations showed that some agencies issued employment letters to jobseekers, which were not accredited by the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation and the Federal Civil Service Commission, while others simply replaced retired or dead officials with friends and family members.

But the replacements were done without the approval of the OHCSF and the Federal Civil Service Commission.

It was earlier reported how some civil servants, who were engaged in employment racketeering, were caught in the Federal Ministry of Works.

It was also reported how the OHCSF uncovered over 1,500 civil servants with fake employment letters in a ministry.

Corroborating this, the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Dr Folasade Yemi-Esan, said her office had detected a total of 1,618 workers whose letters of employment were either fake or illegal in the Federal Civil Service.

This is despite the embargo placed on employment by the government.

In 2019, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation was reported to have employed many individuals without following the due recruitment process.

Many groups, including the Niger Delta Youth Consort of Nigeria, protested against the NNPC for excluding the region and southerners in the secret recruitment.

The National Coordinator of the NDYCN, Chuks Onuoha, described the practice as unacceptable, but the then NNPC spokesman, Kenny Obateru, denied the recruitment.

According to him, what the NNPC management did was to fill the vacancies with personnel who were already in the system and were qualified rather than recruiting fresh ones from outside the system.

But applicants, who got to the final stage of the screening process, accused the oil giant of substituting their names with favoured candidates.

“The NNPC replaced most of the EH positions under the guise of a hurriedly planned scheme codenamed Internal Open Resource where some people, who contracted third party staff members and did not meet the requisite experience and qualifications in the advertised EH vacancies, are being deployed through the backdoor in an unfortunate and disappointing bid to jettison the EH merit list,” the President, Transparency in Recruitment at Ministries, Departments and Agencies, Felix Sunday, had lamented then.

The current NNPC spokesman, Garba Deen Muhammad, asked one of our correspondents to send a message to him on WhatsApp three Fridays ago, but he had yet to respond to the message as of the time of filing this report.

Similarly, the Federal Inland Revenue Service was enmeshed in a recruitment scandal in 2021 after it emerged that it secretly engaged 2,000 workers, a development that put a strain on its budget.

The Nigerian Civil Service Union, which disclosed this in a petition to the FIRS Chairman, Muhammad Namu, in June 2021, also revealed that the agency was finding it difficult to pay salaries at some point after the secret engagement of the staff members within a period of 18 months.

It demanded an end to the re-engagement of retired directors and other categories of staff.

The media aide to the FIRS chairman, Tobi Wojuola, refused to respond to the allegations against the service when contacted.

Reacting to allegations of illegal recruitment, the Nigerian Customs Service spokesman, Timi Bomodi, insisted that there had been no backdoor recruitment in the service.

He said, “We advertise every recruitment in newspapers; there is no ministry and department of government in Nigeria that is as transparent in its recruitment process as the Nigeria Customs Service.

“All the 774 local government areas are represented in our recruitment. Applicants are made to sit aptitude tests and are selected based on their competences. You don’t need to know anybody before you can be employed in the service.”

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