CBN snubs Federal Character Commission, fails to explain ‘waiver’ over Recruitment Scandal

by on April 2, 2016

The Central Bank of Nigeria has refused to respond to a query from the Federal Character Commission regarding its secretive recruitment of children and relatives of serving and former senior government officials.

The commission is empowered by law to monitor and ensure recruitments by government offices follow the law and maintain a spread across Nigeria’s states and local government areas.

The latest employment by the CBN is believed to have breached those requirements.

Through a highly secretive process, the bank hired dozens of relatives of government officials including relatives of several government ministers and President Muhammadu Buhari.

Reports reaching us states that the Bank conducted “targeted recruitment” for “specialists”, and that it obtained a waiver from the Federal Character Commission, allowing it to recruit without advertising for other qualified Nigerians to apply.

The acting chairman of the commission, Shettima Abba, however told this newspaper it was unaware of such waiver, and said the commission had written to the CBN requesting its staff nominal rolls for 2013, 2014 and 2015, within two weeks.

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That deadline expired on Wednesday and the CBN provided no response.

 The bank neither offered any explanation for the delay, nor a commitment to respond on a later date.

“The two weeks deadline for the response to our letter expired on Wednesday with CBN’s response. We are now considering the next line of action to take. By next week, the Commission will let Nigerians know what that will be. We have zero tolerance for lawlessness and impunity,” Mr. Abba told our Correspondent.

Under the Federal Character Commission Regulation, 2008, recruitment into government offices are to be duly advertised in at least two national newspapers giving qualified Nigerians a minimum of six weeks to apply.

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Meanwhile, Say No Campaign, a coalition of civil society groups against corruption and impunity in Nigeria, has petitioned the National Assembly demanding investigation into the controversial recruitment.

In its petition to the Chairmen of the Senate and House of Representatives Committee on Public Petitions, the group who described the recruitment exercise as ‘highly secretive’, demanded that individuals and organisations found culpable should be prosecuted.

In the petition signed by co-convener of the group, Samson Itodo, the group said the exercise violated the rights of Nigerians enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended), as it did not follow the federal character principles for employment by government agencies and public institutions.

Section 16(2) of the constitution provides that, “the economic system will not be operated in such a manner as to permit the concentration of wealth or means of production and exchange in the hands of few individuals or of a group, such as the politically and economically connected, or their children”.

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Lamenting its frustration to investigate the allegation since it broke, the group said a Freedom of Information request for details of the recruitment sent on March 17 was ignored by the CBN, as it was yet to receive any response.

Some of the details included a copy of the letter of approval from the Federal Character Commission authorizing the CBN to recruit staff from 2014 to date; copy of the advertisement for vacancies in the CBN, or waiver granted for the recruitment without advertisement from 2014 to date, and a database of the applicants/beneficiaries of recruitment from 2014 to date.

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