Fidelis Soriwei, Abuja
There were strong indications on Thursday that the Federal Character Commission would sue the Department of State Services unless the agency submitted its nominal roll.
The FCC has also insisted that the DSS should respond to the query it issued to the security agency over its lopsided recruitment.
The Chairman of the commission, Dr. Abba Shettima, in an interview with The PUNCH on Thursday, confirmed that the FCC had written to the DSS to demand its nominal roll.
This, he said, was to verify allegations of lopsidedness in the last recruitment by the agency, which was alleged to have contravened the federal character protocol.
The commission had given the DSS a three-month ultimatum to clear the air on the controversy over the recruitment.
Shettima stated, “We have written to the DSS to get their nominal roll and they have not complied.
“Unless, we look at their nominal roll and ascertain, state-by-state, to see that certain states, that are grossly underrepresented or not represented or overrepresented, we will not come out clearly to say what they have done is lopsided.
“So, in the event we discover that it is not a correct measure, we will now take the appropriate sanctions.”
There are reports that while Katsina State, the state of origin of President Muhammadu Buhari and the Director-General, DSS, Lawal Daura, was allocated 51 slots in the latest recruitment, the whole of the six states in the South-South geopolitical zone got 42 slots.
When asked what the commission would do if the DSS failed to respond to the FCC after three months, Shettima said the commission had the power to commence legal action against any agency involved in deliberate violations of the Federal Character Act.
He added that the commission had the option to refer such defaulting agencies to the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation.
Shettima said, “They (DSS) cannot deliberately ignore us. If they deliberately ignore us, they are violating the law. You know that it is a function of the law. It is the law that establishes it and then the constitution is very clear.
“If you deliberately refuse to comply with the provisions of the Federal Character Act, of the constitution, the commission has every right to take that organisation to court. One of the options is litigation. The other option is you complain to the Attorney General of the Federation that this is what is happening.”
He added that the DG of the DSS, Daura, sent his Special Assistant to him on Tuesday to notify him that he was out of town, adding that they would meet to resolve the issue.
Shettima stressed that it was compulsory for all recruiting Ministries, Departments and Agencies to adhere to the federal character protocol in compliance with the provisions of Section 14 of the Constitution.
He alleged that the recruitment carried out by the DSS in 2012, 2013, 2015 and part of 2017 did not follow the principle of federal character.
The FCC boss added, “If government agencies, whether the DSS or the military, are recruiting, they must comply with the provisions of the Federal Character. Section 14, (3) and (4) is very clear. It has no exception either in the executive, judiciary or the legislature. If you are recruiting, you must comply with the Federal Character protocol. That is basic.
“Over the years, to be honest with you, in 2012, 2013, 2015, and part of this year, recruitments are being done by the DSS without recourse to Federal Character. On many occasions, we have called their attention to this.”
Shettima explained that the intention of the commission was corrective rather punitive and to ensure equality and fairness in the citizens’ participation in organisations under the government.
When asked how the government would address the imbalance caused by lopsided recruitment by organisations, he ruled out the option to sack those who benefitted from such illegal exercise.
He argued that sacking Nigerians, who had been employed because of lopsided recruitment, would create more problems than solutions.
The FCC chairman stated that efforts could only be made to create a balance in future recruitments in compliance with the Federal Character principle.
Shettima also said that for the first time, the FCC had demanded and received nominal rolls of the MDAs.
He explained that the FCC was involved, for the first time, in the ongoing recruitment into the Federal Civil Service, which he described as transparent.
On the issue of the illegal postings in the National Health Insurance Scheme, Shettima said the commission was still involved in talks with the NHIS and had given it a template of character balancing index of states based on its nominal roll.
Shettima stated, “They came in that they are recruiting; this year, we gave them a template of character balancing index of the states of the federation based on its existing nominal roll. And we ask them (officials) if they are recruiting, this is the way they have to recruit.
“But the problem we are experiencing is that most of the MDAs don’t like to advertise because of the cost involved. They will come to us and say they are recruiting; that they have a pool of applicants; that they want to tap from that pool.
“So many reasons have been advanced but they don’t recruit before coming to us, it is an offence and no chief executive officer would want to do that.” (Punchng.com)