By Onwuka Nzeshi
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commis s ion (EFCC) is facing a major integrity test in its recruitment process as 24 cadets who were part of the ongoing training at the Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA) have allegedly been dismissed in questionable circumstance and their positions taken over by others who were not part of the initial recruitment exercise.
In a protest letter dated January 16, 2017 and addressed to the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, the affected cadets, through their lawyer, Olusoji Toki, said they were unfairly dismissed after they had passed all the necessary tests, including medical examination.
A copy of the petition, which was exclusively obtained by New Telegraph, has also been sent to the Acting Chairman of the EFCC and receipt duly acknowledged by the anti-graft agency.
In the letters, the petitioners claimed that the EFCC sent text messages (SMS) with similar contents to them on June 12, 2016 inviting them for screening against the June 23, 2016 and they attended the screening which took place in Abuja, Port Harcourt, Enugu and Lagos.
“Because they were successful in the screening, EFCC invited them for aptitude test on the 25th of June 2016 which they did successfully. Because of their success at the aptitude test, EFCC shortlisted them and invited them for medical screening exercise via SMS which they attended at the Nigeria Air Force Base Hospital, Mando, Kaduna on Thursday, 22nd November 2016.
“EFCC sent another message to them in which it congratulated them because they were successful in the medical screening exercise of the EFCC. And they were, therefore, invited to attend an interview at the EFCC Zonal Office, No 4, Wurno Road, Off Katuru Road, Badurawa, Kaduna State on Thursday, 27th October 2016 which they attended.
“EFCC sent another SM to them that they were successful at the recently conducted EFCC recruitment for the Diploma Cadre. EFCC further directed them to attend the Cadet Training at the Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA), Old Site, Kaduna,” the petition stated.
According to the letter, the commission equally supplied them with the details of the things they should take along with them for the training which they did when they reported for the said training on December 11, 2016.
They claimed that after spending three weeks of rigorous training in the camp, the EFCC called 24 of them out that they have serious medical issues such as kidney disorder, lump in the breast, blood in urine and high blood pressure.
The trainees were said to have protested the sudden change in their medical fitness report and were given the option of undergoing another round of medical examinations in designated government and military hospitals. Counsel to the affected trainees, Toki, said that though the fresh medical reports were favourable to his clients, the EFCC has refused to accept them and allow them resume their training programme.
Toki observed that given the evidence contained in the new medical reports, it does appear that the EFCC unjustly fabricated the excuses in order to shove the 24 trainees aside and replace them with “special candidates” from other states of the federation. He warned that his clients would have no other option than to seek legal redress if the EFCC continued to ignore their request for reinstatement.
Before now, there had been allegations that the EFCC had consistently breached the federal character principle in its recruitment processes, a situation that has left certain parts of the country excluded from the commission. Attempt to get the spokesman of the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, to react to the petition did not yield the desired response as he neither picked the calls nor responded to the text message sent to his mobile phone.