By ADE ALADE
As youth unemployment rate in the country moves towards the 50 per cent mark, ever-growing hapless Nigerian job seekers have come under the siege of desperate and well-entrenched syndicates, which fleece them of hard-earned money for jobs in law enforcement and paramilitary organisations, government agencies, banks as well as oil firms.
Weeks of investigations by Saturday Sun into the modus operandi of these syndicates, revealed that Nigerian graduates looking for jobs in the Nigerian Customs Service, Immigration, Prison Services, banks and oil companies are made to part with huge amount of money ranging from N250,000 to N500,000. It was gathered that authorities of the Immigrations, Customs and Prisons are aware of the activities of the syndicate using their names to extort money from job seekers and have variously published disclaimers on them. Recently, the customs sacked five officers who colluded with the syndicates. Findings further revealed that members of the syndicate sometimes dupe the applicants. In other instances, some lucky applicants are fixed in companies of their choice.
Those who get jobs are expected to pay the syndicate the agreed fee at once or part with their first three months salaries. The syndicate, which boasts of securing jobs for applicants in two new generation banks covered by Saturday Sun undercover investigations, charge a minimum of N100, 000. It was gathered that the syndicate had secured employment for some girls in the banks.
The employment scam equally extends to the oil sector where it was discovered that a syndicate has been milking thousands of job applicants of millions of naira through a management training programme, using a company simply called ‘Conoil Producing Limited.’ The syndicate, like the others, asks applicants to pay N18,100 each into a bank account after which they will be sent a pin number with which they can apply for a lucrative job.
In a letter sent to one of the syndicate’s victims, the applicant was asked to resume the executive training programme on September 29, 2012. The letter, dated August 28, 2012, signed by one Francis (surname withheld), as the purported Head of HR/Admin in Conoil, placed the applicant on a salary of N200,000 per month and a N25, 000 monthly training allowance. As part of the scheme to further extort money from the applicant, a portion of the letter, which was full of grammatical errors, reads: “Due to the law mandated by the Nigeria Petroleum Regulatory Body, all shortlisted candidate or any employee in any of the oil and gas industry in Nigeria must be HSE certified before accepted as an employee of the company. Candidates that are not HSE certified must register with any CPL accredited HSE institute for HSE trainings. Contact the below contact to know the company accredited HSE institute and how to register for the HSE training. Contact person: Ibeh Nwosu, Phone: 08064260659.”
The syndicates that milk applicants for customs job, Saturday Sun investigations showed, have been smiling to the banks. Checks showed that some applicants have actually got jobs into the customs through the syndicate. After the last recruitment exercise, our investigation revealed, the syndicate for the Customs has been issuing letters of appointment to job seekers, who paid their fee. The bubble burst for the syndicate, after collecting N7.5 million from some applicants and fake letters of appointment were issued. They were arrested and their collaborators in the customs were identified, leading to the secret dismissal of those involved in the Abuja headquarters office of the Service. The Civil Defence Corps is not spared in the job-for-sale scam.
There are syndicates involved, Saturday Sun findings showed. Our reporter used the name, Amaka Ezeife recently to contact a member of one of the syndicates and within seconds, the price was fixed and in 24 hours, a bank account was sent for an initial sum of N150, 000 to be paid in. While the syndicate operating in Immigration and Prisons Service use a dedicated bank account, those in one of the new generation banks use a general account, where hapless job seekers make deposits. Saturday Sun has copies of deposit slips/tellers of payments to some of the syndicates. However, the Nigerians Immigration Services is not unmindful of the scam being perpetrated in its name.
The Public Relations Officers (PRO), Mr. Joachim Olumba, said, through a press statement: “I am directed to inform the press and the general public that the management of Nigeria Immigration Service has observed with great concern the nefarious activities of some fraudsters who have resorted to collecting money from job seekers on the false pretext of assisting them to secure employment opportunities in the Service. “It is very disheartening that after receiving large sums of money from helpless job-seekers, these fraudsters issue their victims with fake appointment letters. Some of these unfortunate victims have been arrested for presenting fake letters of appointment when they appear for documentation at the headquarters of Nigeria Immigration Service.
“Consequently, I am directed to inform the press and the general public that Nigeria Immigration Service is not undertaking any recruitment exercise presently, and does not charge any fee whatsoever for recruitment. Hence, any purported claim about recruitment into the Service is only a deliberate design by some fraudsters to dupe gullible and desperate job-seekers. “Once again, we urge members of the public to discountenance the information about any ongoing recruitment into Nigeria Immigration Service, as there is no iota of truth in it. We wish to use this opportunity to restate that the Service will give adequate publicity on its website and the print and electronic media about any recruitment exercise for the participation of all interested and suitably qualified candidates.” Also reacting, the image maker of Nigerian Prisons Service, Mr. Kayode Odeyemi, said that Nigerian Prisons does not collect money to process application for employment.
He advised interested applicants to ensure that they confirm information on the net. All efforts to get across to the Nigeria Customs Service spokesman failed, as he was said to be out of the country. However, a press release by the department said that NCS had dissociated itself from that scandal. It reads as follows: “An internal audit set up by the Comptroller-General of Customs to re-screen the recently recruited cadets and men on training have discovered 44 candidates who got their appointment letters through bribery by conniving with some corrupt officers of the Service. “A syndicate that specialises in extorting various sums of money has been busted. Already, five of such serving officers have been arrested. They include Muktar Ismail Mustapha of Kano/Jigawa Area Command, Uche Umesiete and Bala N. Y of the systems audit department.
Others are Dogo Yakubu Soja and Suleiman T. K both in the Establishment department. “The CGC expressed disappointment at their conduct and restated the determination of his administration to deal decisively with them with a view to tracking all that are connected with this crime, the arrested five officers have been handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to deal with the financial fraud.