Nigeria’s foremost anticorruption agency, the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, the EFCC may have been fingered in corrupt practice as it allegedly shunned the norm of federal character in it recent recruitment of officers, News Punch has learned reliably.
The commission reportedly pushed aside the Federal Character principle in its ongoing recruitment of various cadres of operatives.
According to The Authority Newspaper, the EFCC recruitment exercise is heavily tilted in favour of the North – to the detriment of other geo-political zones in the country.
An appraisal of the classifications and names of the recruits placed on the anti-graft agency’s website shows that contrary to the recommendations of the committee set up on the recruitment, the EFCC’s management went ahead to make its recruitment dominantly from the North.
Our source discovered that about 75 percent of the shortlisted candidates are mainly from the northern part of the country.
The development has forced stakeholders from other parts of Nigeria to appeal to the National Assembly and the Federal Character Commission (FCC) to wade into the matter so that the EFCC could be national in its workforce.
They said that the injection of fresh 750 staff members to an already lopsided commission would be a huge minus to the agency which was primarily set up to fight corruption, but which has consistently exhibited lopsidedness in the employment of its personnel.
Apart from the fact that 75 percent of the shortlisted candidates are from the North, it was discovered that several of such candidates bore the same family names.
It was learnt that the Human Resources Department of the EFCC is being tele-guided by a cabal which has become entrenched in the commission and had severally frustrated the implementation of the Federal Character principle in the agency’s employment processes.
In a petition it sent to the Federal Character Commission (FCC) a group, the Good Governance and Anti-Corruption Mandate, said that the non-inclusion of states of origin and the geopolitical zones of the shortlisted candidates published by the EFCC was designed to cover up the shoddy deal.
The publication on the EFCC’s website, apart from confirming the lopsidedness in the recruitment, also exposed the non-compliance with recruitment parameters set earlier in July this year by the EFCC Recruitment Committee headed by the Secretary of the Commission, Mr. Emmanuel Adegboyega Aremo (SAN).
The committee had recommended that the new set of personnel from the Superintendent Cadre (graduate cadre) should not exceed five persons from any of the states which had dominated others in the nominal roll listing.
It said that 750 new personnel comprising 300 Detective Assistants (candidates with SSCE); 300 Detective Inspectors (candidates with OND/NCE) and 150 Detective Superintendents (candidates with HND or university degrees) should be recruited.
But it was observed that the final round of the recruitment exercise holding at the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Base Hospital, Mando, Kaduna, falls short of merit, federal character, equity, balance, good conscience and fair judgment.
However, the Head of the Media Unit of the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, stoutly defended the actions so far taken by the agency. He insisted that the reporter could not have run into conclusions with a list that did not contain the states of origin of the applicants.
He said: “You have rightly observed that the list did not contain the states of origin of the applicants. How then can you conclude that a section of the country or a particular state was favoured? That is part of the Yellow Journalism which you people practice.”
When Uwujaren was pressed further to justify the non-inclusion of the states of origin of the applicants, he simply said it was not in breach of any law and cut off the telephone call, after raining abuses on the reporter.
Investigations by our source showed that instead of keeping to the recommendation of the Aremo Committee which had recommended that references be made to existing staff to ensure that the states and local governments that are less represented in the EFCC are beefed up in tune with the principle of Federal Character, the powers that be removed state and local government of origin of the shortlisted candidates to cover up their dubious acts.
It was further discovered that after the written examination, at which it was decided that 50 candidates should each be shortlisted from the states with less representation and 20 from the states with high number of operatives, states like Adamawa, Benue, Kogi, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Gombe, Bauchi, Borno, Yobe, Sokoto and Zamfara, with high number of staff, still dominated the published list of 4,542 candidates.
Another curious observation was that people with similar surnames featured so much in a long sequence on the list, lending credence to alleged primordial considerations.
It was gathered that the Federal Character Commission was not consulted nor due process followed in the exercise. Sadly, candidates with scores as low as 20 marks were shortlisted while candidates with up to 60 marks from the South East or South-South geopolitical zones were dropped.
For instance, in the shortlisted candidates for the 150 vacancies declared for the rank of Detective Superintendent (DS), 2,673 candidates were shortlisted.
Similarly, for selecting 300 officers into the rank of Detective Inspectors, 524 were shortlisted. When tongues began to wag on the parameters used for arriving at the DS list, the EFCC pulled down the original list from its website.
Aside from this, inside sources said that some states had over 500 of the 4,542 shortlisted candidates, while states from the South East and South-South had as low as four candidates which was why the states of origin of the candidates were expunged.
According to the Good Governance and Anti-Corruption Mandate, which is insisting on transparency, “even the process of choosing the corruption fighters is corrupt in itself. Federal Character was equally not observed in the published list”.
The group therefore, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene and ensure that “the original examination sheets and the marking scheme be reviewed by an independent body comprising men and women of integrity to ensure that only candidates who passed well get consideration from their states, as against what is being done by the EFCC”.
When contacted on the development, the Head, Public Affairs and Communications of the Federal Character Commission (FCC), Mr. Idris Idris, confirmed that several people have written petitions to the FCC – but said that he was not aware of the one by the Good Governance and Anti-Corruption Mandate against the EFCC’s recruitment exercise.