The swift intervention of officials of the Ministry of Environment and Sustainability in Edo State last week saved desperate job seekers from falling victim of a fake recruitment agency. PATRICK OCHOGA (Benin) reports.
They called their name Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI Environment) whose ordinarily the duty should be to instil orderliness in the society through the enforcement of laid down rules and regulations. But no. this one has a different assignment, at least in Edo State. It claims to be a recruitment agency working for the state Ministry of Environment!
The syndicate presented themselves to the unsuspecting Edo job seekers as a recruitment agency with a promise to secure jobs to Edo youths into the Ministry of Environment and Sustainability.
It was a perfect plan and almost well executed but luck ran out of the fraudsters. Here’s the arrangement: The firm, which laid claims to have provided about 60 jobs to some youths in Delta state, had in December 2017 submitted a well packaged proposal to Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State indicating interest to collaborate with the state government towards providing a cleaner environment.
It was learnt that the Governor minuted the proposal to the Ministry of Environment and Sustainability for advice.
Officials of the firm were said to have met with the commissioner of Environment, Hon Omoua Oni-Okpaku and other top officials who became suspicious of the real motives of the group.
The commissioner, however appealed for time to study the proposal and refer back to the governor before any decision could be taken on it.
Unknown to the officials of the ministry and unsuspecting public the firm had interpreted the proposal to an express approval to recruit environmental officials for the state government under the cover of the ministry.
Banners and fliers suggesting collaboration between the ministry and KAI Environment was printed and displayed at the Bins Hotel which serves as their recruitment centre where 500 job seekers thronged to apply on a daily basis.
Fees ranging from N15, 000, (Uniform), N2, 000 (rank), N2, 000 (hand out), N1, 000, (exam fee) and N2, 000, (application form) was paid by applicants.
Training for applicants were said to have been carried out at the popular Garrick memorial School along Ekenwa road few metres away from the recruitment centre.
The public relations officer of the ministry, Friday Esewede was reported to have addressed successful applicants at their training sessions, an action which gave credence and integrity to the exercise.
Busting the Syndicate
As desperate job seekers trooped to obtained forms, one of the applicants, Friday Igbaugba, a graduate who had been out of job for seven years was said have told friends that his job search have come to an end with the opportunity.
He was assisted with N2, 000 to purchase the form not knowing that he will be asked to pay additional N15, 000 for uniform, an amount he couldn’t afford.
He approached a relative who is in the know about government recruitment procedure for assistance to pay for the uniform.
Suspecting something was fishy, the relation was said to have reached out to officials of the Ministry of Environment and the office of the Special Adviser on Media for enquires on the on-going recruitment exercise.
He was shocked beyond words, when the two government offices disassociated the state from the recruitment, describing KAI environment operation in state as criminal and extortion which subsequently led to the arrest of the coordinator, Benjamin Amaechi Chukwura.
Prior to the arrest of Chukwura, LEADERSHIP Weekend visited the recruitment premises and met with one Franklyn Nwachukwu, who identified himself as disciplinary officer to the firm. He said his boss was recruiting youths with the permission of the state government through the Ministry of Environment and Sustainability, a claim the ministry had debunked.
The commissioner for Environment and Sustainability who led other officials and security agents to arrest the job syndicate said the activity of the firm is illegal and criminal.
Omoua who was taken aback at the turn of event after she met officials of KAI narrated: “The day the man came they came with all kind templates that they do dumpsite, waste management and all that and I said okay we will get back to you.
“You are all aware that there is an embago on recruitment and if we are going to recruit, it has to be through Edo Jobs, we can’t recruit from outside. Since the last time they came we haven’t heard from the man only for the permanent secretary to notify me that these people actually came to the ministry and sat under the tree giving the impression that they work with the Ministry of Environment. We had to send them away from our premises.”
Does she have a prior knowledge of their proposal? She said: “Yes, they wrote a proposal and we haven’t given them any directives, without a document how do you operate? It is the commissioner, permanent secretary or the governor that can sign such document before anybody can claim you have something binding.”
Another top staff of the ministry stated: “There are a lot of proposals seeking for collaboration with government on environmental issues. When I saw the minutes from the governor and I read through it, I already have my own opinion. They want to collaborate even without payments arouse my suspicion. Each time they are coming they are always fully kitted; they come to the ministry to loiter around.
“I told them that the ministry cannot collaborate with you without a clear MoU and I made it clear to them that their coming to the ministry was to give the impression that they are working with the ministry. They claim that their office is in the second floor where my office is. I was shocked. What they were doing was to procure integrity which they don’t have because anybody who sees us with them will think they have our support.”
Meanwhile, the suspect who is currently assisting the police was said to claim that they wrote to the governor seeking partnership.
But according to a statement by the special adviser to the Governor on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, the suspect’s claim was unfounded and his intention was to dupe Edo job seekers.
“The suspect, Benjamin Amachi Chukwura, is a graduate of Public Administration, from Ambrose Alli University (AAU), Ekpoma. He claimed that his organisation wrote a letter to Edo State government in November 2017 seeking recognition and partnership with the state on environmental issues.
“Chukwura told security agents that KAI Environmental is a voluntary organisation operating in Delta State with about 60 workers,” Osagie said.
Crusoe further added: “EdoJobs is the only platform that recruits workers for the Edo State government. Any other company that parades itself as a recruitment body or company for Edo State is out to scam job seekers.
“The Obaseki administration does not collect money for jobs. We have digitalised and centralised the process of giving jobs to qualified people in the state and all that is required of job seekers is to simply upload their applications on the EdoJobs portal, and they will be contacted by officials of government. Job seekers should be circumspect and report any organisation that parades itself as a recruitment company for the state government to security agencies,” the statement warned.
But Chukwura Benjamin, before he was handed over to the police for further investigation insisted that his activities in the state was legal
The 40 years old who claim to be a Prince from the Ibunor royal palace in Delta State said, “We applied to the state government since last year, we are to train and embark on sensitisation programme and we have had series of meeting with government officials and we have a file at the ministry. As an NGO we are registered and expectedly the money we collect is running cost, we pay trainees that carry out some activities for us.
“I wrote a letter on environmental service to the governor that we are going to recruit and train some persons and there was a letter to that effect and it was acknowledged. We clearly stated in our letter that we are going to train these people. We also operate in Delta State and they give supports to pay our trainees some people earn N15, 000 and above.
“We are looking at area of penalty to generate money for payment of salary and it is the government that determines that. There is an assurance from the governor that we are going to recruit and train these people and that when we train them it is going to be a reservoir for employment. Like in Delta State we have about 60 workers,” he said.
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