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Confronting job racketeering, Congress finds rot in departments

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The House of Representatives inquiry into employment racketeering in government ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs) and the exploitation of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information Service (IPPIS) has yielded disturbing disclosures, and they continue to surface.

So far, the investigations have shown widespread corruption among government employees; several of them have admitted to taking bribes from naive job-seekers in exchange for providing them with employment.

Top staff of the Federal Character Commission (FCC), the agency tasked with ensuring fairness, equity, transparency, and accountability in the sharing of federal vacancies, have been indicted in the alleged racketeering, according to a report released last month by the Committee led by lawmaker Yusuf Gagdi, who represents APC, Plateau.

Despite the ongoing investigation, the ad hoc committee has already concluded that the agency’s upper management committed a serious violation of the FCC Act by arbitrarily granting employment waivers to MDAs, conducting biased hiring practices in the majority of departments, and outright selling job openings to the desperate unemployed.

Former IPPIS desk officer Mr. Haruna Kolo, who was accused of collecting monies from people to offer them jobs, came forward with the shocking revelation from the FCC. He admitted that he had collected over N75 million from applicants on the instruction of FCC chairman, Dr. Farida Dankaka.

Kolo told the committee that he met with Dankaka multiple times at her home to accept the funds and make cash payments to her on behalf of the FCC chairman.

Former FCC IPPIS desk officer claims he reported receiving two paychecks after he resigned on 2 November 2022 to start working for Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) and was assured the issue would be resolved by the FCC’s human resources department.

Kolo recalled, “When she came to Federal Character as the executive chairman, she appointed me as a protocol officer, which I carried out diligently.” (She is the current head of the FCC)

Regarding the charges of racketeering in the employment sector, the FCC chairman directed me to communicate with Mr. Shehu, the commissioner of Taraba State’s personal driver and assistant.

“As a desk officer, it’s my job to transport new hires to IPPIS for interrogation and incarceration. No one can visit without a letter of authorization from the FCC’s Chairman or Human Resource Officer.

When she arrived, she instructed the Accountant General to disregard any FCC correspondence that wasn’t personally signed by her. So, if there was a change in employment status, she would sign, hand them over to me, and then I would take them to the Accountant General’s office to be captured.

The accused officer went on to say, “Shehu is the one that brought those that paid money to my account for a job, some paid 1 million, some paid 1.5 million all to my personal account, my Ecobank account. She had me transfer cash to her via point-of-sale, so there is no paper trail to speak of.

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They are making the presumption that I worked at seven different places, but I have never done so,” he said of the accusation.

Kolo said, “The second allegation on my subsequent employment at AMCOM, was a result of her personal favor to me, we were four in number, and she gave the appointment letter to myself, Kadijah, and Olusola, we all proceeded for the interview at AMCON headquarters in Abuja, after which we were called upon for training on the 16th January 2023, after which I and Olusola were called to Lagos.”

The Chairman’s biological sister, Kadijah, was turned down for employment, and the Chairman blamed me for it.

I find it quite unlikely that the chairwoman would make such serious accusations against me. I felt unsafe in Abuja and was eventually forced to leave the city. If something were to happen to me after this meeting, he told the committee, “Sir,” he wanted the FCC chairman to take the blame.

Gagdi, the head of the ad hoc committee, said that they had gotten Mr. Kolo’s bank records and that the names of anyone who had made unusual deposits or withdrawals had been identified so that they could be called to testify at the investigation’s hearing.

According to Gagdi, the committee discovered that one Gbadamosi Jalo had sent money to Mr. Kolo many times.

He said, “We saw transactions in Haruna Kolo’s account related to Ishau Gambo, a driver associated with the Taraba Commissioner. The only rational explanation is to extend an invitation to the Taraba Commissioner. Abubakar, the commissioner’s assistant, and I gave him a call.

Some people who gained the position through racketeering were extensively highlighted on Gbadamosi Jalo, he said.

Under oath, Jalo informed the committee that he had transferred N1.2 million to Mr. Kolo’s account and been promised a job with the FCC in exchange. He said that he had since been added to the IPPIS and was receiving pay as a result.

He told the panel that when he found success in his job, Kolo advised him to find more people looking for work who are willing to pay. He told the committee that ten people had contributed through him. Most of the people who applied through him were hired by the Nigerian Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research (NIOMR), as stated by Jalo.

According to Jalo, Mr. Kolo was introduced to him by Ishayu Gambo, the commissioner of Taraba State’s driver. Through him, I was introduced to Haruna Kolo. On October 14th, 2021, we conducted our IPPIS. The following month, in November, I began receiving my paycheck. That’s why I knew I could trust them. Kolo instructed me to assemble a bigger crew. He also informed me that there would be a new round of hiring. As soon as the funds arrived in my account,” he explained.

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Musa Ibrahim provided similar testimony to the committee. He testified that he helped move funds into the bank account of Abdulahi Ibrahim, who he claimed was an adviser to FCC Commissioner Mamman Ankayi of Nasarawa State.

He proved to the committee that money had been paid, and he claimed that when Mr. Ibrahim was arrested, the commissioner helped him get out.

“Abdullahi Ibrahim was a scam; we got him arrested at a point,” he claimed.

The victims of the alleged employment racketeering at the FCC, Abdulmalik Ahmed and Ali Yaro, said they paid N1 million and N2 million, respectively, for job placements at the commission.

Adamawa native Ahmed testified before the ad hoc committee that he was promised a job in the FCC in exchange for N1 million from the driver of Taraba Commissioner Mr Yisha’u Gambo.

But he claimed he wouldn’t pay Yisha’u because he was only a regular driver. Mr. Harunu Kolo, a former member of the FCC staff and the commission’s desk officer of IPPIS, was introduced to us by Yisha’u. As a precaution, I did not give the driver any of the N1 million that I deposited into Kolo’s account after verifying that he was a commission employee.

The sum of N1 million has been sent to Kolo’s bank account. At first, we settled on N1.5 million with Gambo, the Commissioner’s driver from Taraba.

He added that 27 of them had paid the required fee and been issued appointment letters, but that they had not been assigned to any of the MDAs listed on the letters.

Before fraudulently taking our appointments, the Head of Human Resources at FCC assured us they were legitimate. After two years of marriage and no posts, my husband and I decided to end our engagement.

He stated that, contrary to FCC claims that recruitment has not occurred since 2017, it actually occurred in 2021 and that all of the commissioners participated. So that our hiring would follow that of the Directors and the Commissioners, Kolo pushed me to pay a fee.

Another Borno resident, Yaro, testified that he was required to pay N2 million to the FCC in exchange for a job offer. “I wired N2 million to Badamasi Jalo, another victim who was also serving as an agent for the collection of cash on Kolo’s behalf. He added, “I was captured on IPPIS on August 5, 2021, and both Kolo and Badamasi assured me that I will get an appointment letter in January.” However, he was never placed.
“I graduated eleven years ago and I had a chance to become Boko Haram but I refused because I wanted to be a good citizen,” he stated.

FCC chief rejects claims
In response to Kolo’s accusations, FCC chairman Dr. Farida Dankaka swore on the Holy Quran and before God that she had never accepted money from Kolo, nor had she ever authorized a subordinate to do so. I pledge allegiance to the One True God and to the Holy Quran. The secretary’s Quran arrived just in time, thank God. May God wipe out my hard-earned success if I ever get paid by this Kolo. Let the Qu’ran be burned if I’ve ever instructed him to go collect a single naira from someone who has it.

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I haven’t seen this particular Kolo since last December. I’m not familiar with this driver they keep mentioning. The driver and I have never actually met. “He said he comes to my house to give me money, but he never comes here,” she stated.

Equally highlighted, Nasarawa state’s FCC commissioner Mamman Alakai also denied taking bribes to place unemployed people in jobs.

One of the possible beneficiaries, Musa Ibrahim, told the committee that he and nine other people had deposited millions of dollars into the account of a linkman named Abdullahi Ibrahim, who was in contact with Alakai.
In contrast, the Commissioner testified before the special committee and claimed he had never been offered a job in exchange for money. “A traditional leader in Nasarawa contacted to tell me that one of my aides took money in exchange for positions in the government. I had the police look into the caller’s identity and they told me it was Ibrahim. I petitioned the authorities and they found him,” Alakai added.

The Nigerian Correctional Service outfit was discovered at his home by the police. He said he was employed by the company. According to what I’ve heard, the victims of his deception have already filed lawsuits.

“My account is open for the committee to scrutinize since Ibrahim claimed he paid money to me for job slots,” Alakai said, inviting the committee to investigate his finances.

Chairman of the probe panel Yusuf Gagdi has committed to expose all corruption and irregularities linked with employment in the nation’s agencies, and the investigation is ongoing with additional MDAs due to come before the committee. He has also promised to advocate for the elimination of employment waivers in government agencies, citing widespread abuse and poor management of such policies as reasons.

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