Federal lawmakers were shocked yesterday when heads of paramilitary agencies could not deny taking bribe from job seekers.
During an interactive session with heads of the Federal Character Commission FCC), Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC), the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), the Nigeria Prisons Service, the Federal Fire Service, and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, members of the National Assembly Joint Committee on Federal Charac-ter and Inter-Governmental Affairs condemned what they described as flagrant violation of the federal character principles in recruitment exercises.
A member of the panel, Senator Uche Chukwumerije, described taking bribe from job applicants as an unpardonable crime.
There was a mild drama when FCSC Chairman Deaconess Joan Ayo and the representatives of the Prisons Service and Federal Fire Service Comptrollers-General could not raise hands when Chukwumerije asked those whose agencies had never collected bribe from job seekers to raise hands.
"Is there anyone of you here whose agency does not take or has never taken bribe from job applicants? If you know your organisation does not take or has never taken bribe from job applicants, raise your hand," Chukwumerije said.
Ayo and the representatives of prisons and fire service comptrollers-general did not raise their hands, but when NSCDC Commandant-Ge-neral Ade Abolurin did so, members of the committee cut in and quizzed: "You want to tell us the bribery in your organisation is legitimate?"
Meanwhile, the panel ignored the representative of the Minister of Interior, Aba Moro, and frowned at the absence of the Comptroller-General of the Immigration Service, Mrs Rose Uzoma.
The chairman of the panel, Senator Dahiru Awaisu Kuta, accused the Federal Character Commission of granting indiscriminate recruit-ment waiver to agencies and paras-tatals, lamenting that nearly all the government agencies were brea-ching sections 14 (3) and (4) of the constitution in their recruitment exercises.
Kuta, who accused ministers and elected public officials of rec-ruitment lopsidedness, said the National Assembly would amend the law to impose stiffer sanctions on anyone breaching federal character principles.
Responding, FCC Chairman Pro-fessor Shuaibu Oba Abdulraheem accused the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Company (NLNG) of violating federal character principles in their recruitment processes.
In her own submission, Ayo advo-cated merit as a major consideration for employment which she said she had been ensuring since her assumption of office.