The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has sacked 48 workers, one year after they were recruited by the agency. The affected staff cut across various cadres.
In 2019, NEMA, under the leadership of its erstwhile Director General, Engineer Mustapha Maihaja, hired the 48 staff following a recruitment exercise which started in 2018.
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The appointment letter, seen by Daily Trust, was dated December 24, 2019 and signed by Maihaja.
Investigation by Daily Trust showed that recruitment was conducted by the Public Service Institute of Nigeria, after an approval by the Board of the agency, chaired by Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.
However, copy of letters seen by Daily Trust showed that the Agency cancelled the same recruitment in January 2021 over alleged non-adherence to “the laid down rules and regulations guiding recruitment into the civil service.”
The new employees whose appointments were terminated about a year after being hired told Daily Trust that they were subjected to a rigorous selection process and were made to resign from their former jobs, to secure the NEMA jobs.
The letter conveying the cancellation of the appointment was dated January 25, 2021 and signed by Musa Zakari, Deputy Director, Human Resource Development, on behalf of the director general.
“After a careful investigation of the processes and procedures followed, the outcome of the investigation shows that the laid down rules and regulations guiding recruitment into the civil service were not duly exhausted thereby vitiating the whole process and its outcome. As a result of the foregoing, the Agency hereby cancels the appointment letter issued to you forthwith being not in order,” Zakari stated.
“This is Injustice”
Some of the affected staff who spoke to Daily Trust alleged injustice on the part of the NEMA management, with one of them describing their travails an outcome of a power play between the former director general and the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Internally Displaced Persons, Sadiya Umar-Farouk .
“The recruitment took place around September-October, 2019. Before we were confirmed, we were made to write an aptitude test, conducted by the Public Service Institute. There were representatives of the Federal Character Commission, and from what I found out, the Federal Character Commission even gave NEMA a certificate of compliance, which shows that all due processes were followed,” one of the affected beneficiaries told Daily Trust.
The source said one of the sacked staff recently lost his wife and has been undergoing serious trauma as he has been rendered jobless.
“NEMA left us in the middle of nowhere. Now, we don’t have our former jobs and the NEMA job,” the source said.
Another beneficiary, who pleaded anonymity for fear of victimisation, said he had resumed duties at NEMA after documentation and issuance of temporary staff identity card.
The affected beneficiary said he and some of hiss colleagues had worked for one year without pay and were awaiting enrolment into the Federal Government’s Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) before their appointment was terminated.
“I filled the assumption of duty form. I have my file number at NEMA, which makes me a staff because it is your file number that makes you a staff of an organisation. It’s a year now that I did my documentation at NEMA,” the beneficiary said.
The affected employees have petitioned the Federal Character Commission (FCC), the Senate President, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment and other relevant agencies.
When contacted, NEMA’s spokesperson, Manzo Ezekiel, said he was not aware of any recruitment in the Agency, let alone the cancellation.
“I am not aware of any recruitment that was done by NEMA. We have our standard as a country for employment and one of the standards is that jobs must be advertised in newspapers and I am not aware of any advertisement that was placed, or any employment that was done,” he said.
Ezekiel said if anybody has a letter of employment from NEMA and another letter cancelling the employment offer, then the letter containing the cancellation of the employment should contain the reason the employment was cancelled.
Former DG speaks
Meanwhile, the Agency’s former Director-General, Engineer Maihaja, told Daily Trust that he was not aware of the cancellation of the recruitment exercise conducted during his administration, adding that it would be “unfortunate”.
Maihaja said “due process was followed as provided by Law, and specifically the NEMA Establishment Act; from the approval to recruit by the Governing Council (Chaired by the VP), the Management/senior staff establishment Committee’s engagement of Public Service Institute to conduct selection process, exams and interviews to the final insurance of the Compliance Certificate by the Federal Character Commission.
“What is of concern to me are the staff recruited, some happened to be workers elsewhere, were asked to bring their proof of resignation and corresponding acceptance by their former employers, and they complied and subsequently accepted the offer. It is a pity if truly they were disengaged after all,” he said.
President Muhammadu Buhari removed Maihaja from office in May, 2020 before he could serve out his tenure having been appointed in 2017.
Though no reason was given for his removal, sources said a cold war broke out between the Humanitarian Affairs Minister and the erstwhile NEMA boss over maihaja’s alleged refusal to submit himself to the supervisory control of the minister.
The ministry was created on August 21, 2019, during the second term of President Buhari, and was made to take charge of NEMA, which was hitherto under the office of the vice president.
“They sacked Maihaja because he refused to subject himself to the control of the minister. Now, they want to undue his legacies. But it is unfair to extend that to innocent young people,” a source at the agency said.
The Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the Humanitarian Affairs minister, Nneka Ikem Anibeze, declined comment on the role the Minister played in the cancellation of the recruitment.
However, Anibeze referred Daily Trust back to the spokesperson of NEMA, Ezekiel, who had denied knowledge of the said recruitment and cancellation.