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Harrowing tales of jobseekers: Haunted by joblessness, hunted by scammers

Another victim, Kunle Durojaiye paid N2, 500 to a job syndicate as consultancy fee in an attempt to get a job after completing the NYSC…

Following the murder of a jobseeker, Iniubong Umoren, in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, some people have shared their experiences on the ordeals they have gone through in search of jobs.

Many of them borrowed money while others sold their assets and paid millions for jobs they did not get.

Countless victims

Iniubong Umoren, the jobseeker who was murdered in Akwa Ibom recently was buried on Friday last week. She was one of hundreds of jobseekers that have been swindled by fake recruitment agencies.

The 26-year-old graduate of Philosophy from the University of Uyo was buried in Nung Ita Ikot Essien, Oruk Anam Local Government Area of the state.

The man who killed her was paraded by the police in the state, where he confessed to hitting her with an electrical appliance, leading to her death.

Though investigation is ongoing by the police, the family has demanded for justice for the late jobseeker, who they described as a private person.

Iniubong’s death brought to fore the many challenges of graduates in the country as many people and organisations take advantage of the high unemployment rate to rip off jobseekers.

There are many applicants who lost their lives in the process of looking for simple jobs while others who were looking for “greener pastures” ended up spending their savings pursuing the fruitless white collar opportunity.

Findings by our correspondents revealed that those in the scam of job offers for unsuspecting youths use different methods, including deploying fake recruitment firms.

Others use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others.

They create sites for fake companies using different names. They also print fliers, banners and posters, all in an effort to give the impression that they are genuine.

However, a background check on most of the phantom companies showed that they are as empty as the jobs they claim to have control over.

‘I escaped death by a whisker’

Ms Dorothy Edet, the chief executive officer of Mind Kitchen Academy, said she was lucky to have escaped from the suspected killer of Iniubong. She said the suspect, Uduak Frank Akpan, invited her for a job interview which she could not honour because she did not have transport fare.

“We need to fight rape. We need to fight these people because they are heartless. They don’t have mercy for anybody. These people should not be spared. If it is possible, they should be eliminated; just kill them by hanging,’’ she said.

Despite taking extra measures to ensure their safety while going for job interviews, scores of Nigerians have been victims of scammers who disguised as employers with lucrative opportunities. Many people had sold their vehicles and other valuables and at the end of the day losing millions of naira to these scammers. Their desperation to get jobs with better pay was heightened by the severe economic situation in the country.

Cynthia Abayomi, an Abuja resident, graduated two years ago and had attended many job interviews to no avail. The hardship she experienced due to joblessness made her desperate to get a job.

“I saw a job opening for entry-level graduates at a firm in Wuse 2, Abuja. With excitement, I applied for the job. Three days later, I was called for an interview. During the interview, I was asked to stand up and turn 360 degrees for the interviewer (a lady) to assess my body,” she said.

Cynthia said she was employed as a marketer a few days after the interview, alongside four other girls. She added that during orientation, her employers instructed them to use what they had to attract prominent clients to their office spaces.

She said she turned down the job when she realised she was to use sexual advances to secure patronage.

Another unemployed graduate, Sandra Etim said, “I received an employment offer from a firm I had applied to in Abuja. I found out that it was a recruitment firm and I was told to pay N50, 000 to process the employment. The agency refused to disclose the organisation that employed me until the payment was made.” She said that conscious of the scams, she did not pay the money, so she lost the ‘job.’

Mubarak Aliyu was not lucky as he was duped of N500, 000. He sold his wife’s car to raise the money in an attempt to get a lucrative job in a federal government establishment in Kaduna State.

He was duped by one of his childhood friends who promised to help him get the job. His wife teaches in a private school in Kaduna.

In agreement with his wife, he sold her car to raise the money, with the hope of buying another car on getting the job. He said he was unable to reach the swindler since he collected the money.

“I became worried. My wife and I fasted and prayed for several days. It almost crashed my marriage. It was a horrible experience, and because there was no legal transaction, we were told at the police station that getting justice would be difficult,” he said.

Job scammers use different methods

An Ibadan-based 26-year-old National Certificate in Education (NCE) holder, Jumoke Ogunyoye, was recently duped N1.5million while searching for a job. She said the man who duped her also slept with her several times. She said the suspect collected the money from her in bits.

Another victim, Kunle Durojaiye paid N2, 500 to a job syndicate as consultancy fee in an attempt to get a job after completing the NYSC programme. He said he paid the money because it was ‘insignificant.’

Durojaiye said he knew he was scammed when he got to the venue of the job interview in Opebi, Ikeja, Lagos, where he saw more than 200 jobseekers who must have paid the same amount.

“I am yet to hear from them. Their official number is not reachable again,” he said.

Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital is also a den of job scammers. Gloria Okwara has been in search of a job for more than four years after completing the NYSC programme. She said, “I have attended several interviews which turned out to be scams. This is what we experience in Lagos on a daily basis. They will advertise for different positions online and even put attractive salaries, but we would be disappointed on getting there as it would turn out to be a network marketing firm trying to recruit young people into their trade.

“At Amara Olu in Ikeja, you have quite a number of them. They would ask you to dress corporately as if you were coming for a serious job interview, but when you get there, after a long speech they would introduce a networking job to you, and at the end, you are expected to pay N10, 000 to register,’’ she said.

Another jobseeker, Ayodele Damilola, said that due to scams, she had stopped attending job interviews, except in reputable and verifiable companies.

Iniubong Umoren, the job seeker that was raped and killed
Iniubong Umoren, the job seeker that was raped and killed

Fake job posters flood Abuja

Posters of fake vacancies by job scammers litter different towns in Abuja with attractive conditions, such as free lunch and immediate employment after oral interview.

Some of them charge between N3, 000 and N5,000 for employment forms and negotiate for 50 per cent of the first salary for a job they do not have to offer prospective jobseekers, just to attract them to be swindled.

One of the suspected scammers our reporter reached through a poster pasted around Wuse Market, Abuja, said there were vacancies for administrative staff, secretaries, account officers, waitresses, drivers, teachers, supervisors, and many others. She urged our reporter to come to his office, adding that there was a form to be picked at N3, 000.

Asked about her name and if she was the manager of the company, she ended the call.

Another syndicate who claimed he had offices in Wuse,  Mararaba,  Zuba and advertised positions for cashier, secretary, sales boy and girl said, “Just bring your CV and indicate your qualification, job experience, age and state of origin. But make the CV brief. Don’t let it be long because I don’t have time. I have a lot of things to attend to. As soon as you submit the CV we will call you for an oral interview,’’ he added.

When asked about his name, designation, and whether he has a registered employment agency, he fumed, “Are you to simply do what I asked you to do or you are to interrogate me?’’ He dropped the phone and didn’t pick further calls.

Scammers benefit from growing unemployment rate

There are indications that the job scammers could be benefiting from the growing unemployment rate in the country. Data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed that unemployment rate in Nigeria was 33.3 per cent at the fourth quarter of 2020, being an increase from the 27.1 per cent recorded in the second quarter of that year. The underemployment rate declined from 28.6 per cent in the second quarter of 2020 to 22.8 per cent in the fourth quarter.

The unemployment rate among young people (15- 34 years) was 42.5 per cent up from 34.9 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2020, while the rate of underemployment for the same age group declined to 21.0 per cent from 28.2 per cent in Q2, 2020. These rates were the highest when compared to other age groupings.

The data showed that the number of persons in the economically active or working age population (15 – 64 years of age) as at the fourth quarter of 2020 was 122,049,400.

The number of persons in the labour force (people within ages 15 and 64, who are able and willing to work) was estimated to be 69,675,468. This was 13.22 per cent less than the number of persons in Q2, 2020. Of this number, those within the age bracket of 25 and 34 were highest, with 20,091,695 or 28.8 per cent of the labour force.

The total number of people in employment (people with jobs) during the reference period was 46,488,079. Of this number, 30,572,440 were fulltime employed (worked 40+hours per week), while 15,915,639 were under-employed (working between 20 and 29 hours per week). This figure is 20.6 per cent less than people in employment in the second quarter of 2020.

Further disaggregation of the data showed that the unemployment rate among rural dwellers was 34.5 per cent, up from 28.2 per cent in Q2, 2020, while urban dwellers reported a rate of 31.3 per cent, up from 26.4 per cent. In the case of underemployment among rural dwellers, it declined to 26.9 per cent from 31.5 per cent, while the rate among urban dwellers decreased to 16.2 per cent from 23.2 per cent in Q2, 2020.

Under state disaggregation, Imo reported the highest rate of unemployment with 56.6 per cent. This was followed by Adamawa and Cross River states with 54.9 per cent and 53.7 per cent respectively.

The state with the lowest rate was Osun in the South-West, with 11.7 per cent. For underemployment, the state that recorded the highest rate was Benue, with 43.5 per cent, while Lagos recorded the lowest underemployment rate, with 4.5 per cent in Q4, 2020.

A total number of 12,160,178 did not do any work in the last seven days preceding the survey as at the fourth quarter of 2020.

Greed responsible for fake recruitment

Isaac James, who specialises in human resource development said while some jobseekers are victims of circumstances, others fall into the trap because of greed.

“There are youths who have graduated from the university and could not secure job from government or the private sector. Some of them become victims of the scammers out of desperation. They might not necessarily pay money but they could be exploited or used for ritual purposes,” he said.

According to him, “The people perpetrating the scam have their targeted audience and therefore package the so-called job offers to attract them.

“For instance, you see them advertising a multi -million naira job opportunity for people they know are already working somewhere. In the process, they swindle the greedy job seekers of their hard-earned  money.”

Taiwo Adeniyi, Clement Adeyi, Francis Arinze Iloani (Abuja), Maryam Ahmadu-Suka (Kaduna), Jeremiah Oke (Ibadan), Abdullateef Aliyu (Lagos) & Iniabasi Umo (Uyo)

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