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Investigations

In Nasarawa, Bribery and Extortion Allegations Mar Govt’s Recruitment of Teachers

He scrunched up his face after selling his motorcycle for ₦500,000 to pay for a teaching job slot. Alhassan Ismail, a 29-year-old job seeker, wanted to buy his way into the Nasarawa Teachers Service Commission (NSTSC). Biliyaminu Mohammed, an alleged racketeer in the commission, promised to get him the job once he paid a ₦200,000 bribe, to bring him in through the backdoor.

After graduating from the College of Education in Nasarawa State,  Ismail worked as a commercial motorcyclist. The job sustained him until he had to sell his motorcycle to buy a government job. A few months later, he found himself reeling in frustration, after realising that the job racketeer had only fleeced him.

Alhassan Ismail (Photo Credit – Usman Yakubu Usman)

Ismail and many other job seekers were excited when Governor Abdullahi Sule approved that new teachers should be recruited in the state. Campus Reporter spoke to some racketeering NSTSC officials and desperate job racketeers, including those who got the job after buying their way in and those who lost to fleecers. Their accounts show that many job seekers had to pay huge amounts to racketeers, turning the recruitment process into a cash-and-carry adventure. 

For months, Ismail kept asking the racketeer to provide the job or refund his money. Biliyaminu, who connived with one Ahmad Abubakar to persuade Ismail to pay for the job, kept evading him with false promises. 

Bilyaminu Mohammed, the job racketeer. Source – Facebook

Later, Ismail reported the racketeer to the community guards established by the Nasarawa state government. Biliyaminu admitted wrongdoing when the guards grilled him and promised to cough up the funds. 

He failed. 

When he ran out of persuasive methods, Ismail sued Biliyaminu and his alleged accomplice at the Upper Area Court in the Wamba community of Nasarawa state.

“After the first hearing, they pleaded with me to withdraw the case so that we would settle it at home, that by God’s grace my money would be paid. But I fervently refused,” he recalled. “In the next hearing, he promised to pay me in tranches — ₦50,000 each month till he pays all. That’s how he paid all my money through the lawsuit.”

A similar thing occurred when Mohammad Lagi paid a staggering ₦300,000 to buy his way into the system. Hoping he would get the job, he saved for months to pay the bribe and waited for an employment letter before realising that he had been fleeced. 

The job racketeer had also allegedly collected ₦19,000 from one Bashir Attahiru, promising to get the job for him and his brother’s wife.  He waited for an employment letter for months before realising that the racketeer had fleeced him. 

Bashir Attathiru. Source: Facebook

“They only trade the job for the highest bidder,” Lagi warned. “If you pay ₦300,000 and another person pays ₦600,000, they sell it for the person with the bigger offer.”

Campus Reporter interviewed job seekers who had either been fleeced or knew someone who was a victim. We spoke with some racketeers and officials who abused the recruitment processes by selling out job offers to the highest bidders.

Although many job seekers we interviewed claimed they were duped during the recruitment racketeering, others told Campus Reporter that they bought their way in without being fleeced. Ma’awiya Umar is one such person. He had secured the job after paying a ₦300,000 bribe earlier this year and received his appointment letter with utmost joy. 

“If you fold your arms, you can’t get the job,”  Ma’awiya claimed. “Almost 90 per cent get the job when they pay for it.” 

Ma’awiya refused to reveal the name of the racketeer who got him the job, but he’s not alone. Mubarak Isah, another person who got the job after paying a ₦200,000 bribe to Biliyaminu told Campus Reporter that he was just a lucky man. 

Mubarak Isa’s Appointment Letter

“Some people paid ₦500,000 without getting the job; my friend was one of the victims. He paid ₦200,000 but couldn’t get it,” he said, adding that Biliyaminu has a strong connection with the chairman of the Teachers Service Commission (TSC). 

Nasarawa Teachers’ Service Commission (NTSC)

Ma’awiya also suggested that many times, the job racketeering is beyond Biliyaminu. As the focal person between the commission and the desperate job seekers, he struggles to get people in despite collecting huge amounts from them.

Amidst the influx of successful buyers and obvious demand for more slots, we discovered other job seekers who had agreed to pay with assurances from the racketeers that they would be employed.

In March, Campus Reporter met Abdullahi Dahiru, a job seeker who agreed to pay for the job slot and had already deposited ₦50,000. He did not apply for the teaching job as required, but someone in the commission assured him of getting an appointment letter once he paid. The agreement would soon turn frivolous, as he waited for months to collect his appointment letter to complete the payment.

“It’s just deception; I am lucky not to have given more than ₦50,000,” he lamented. “Now I don’t want the job again.”

Job racketeering in many public offices is a common problem in Nasarawa state and many such cases have been recorded in the past. In 2021, for instance, the state government berated the teacher’s commission for illegally collecting ₦2,000 from applicants applying to work in the commission, according to Punch. In 2022, the Nassarawa governor, Abdullahi Sule, also warned the commission against fraudulent activities during the recruitment of 550 teachers in the state. He said this after reports reached him that some individuals were extorting job seekers at the time.

Governor Abdullahi Sule, the Nasarawa State Governor

At the recent recruitment of teachers in the state, however, job seekers who chose to follow the process lamented how the racketeers frustrated the system. One such person, Adamu Haruna, explained the pain he endured during the recruitment process.

“The recruitment for the job wasn’t based on merit,” he said. “Those that didn’t write the exams or partake in the screening were given the job because they pay through connection.”

Several others who went through the due process re-echoed Haruna’s lamentation about the lack of transparency by authorities in charge of the recruitment. The rot in the system is ruining the education sector in Nasarawa state. In August 2020, about 1251 teachers were reported to have no teaching qualifications in the state, with authorities threatening to sack them. 

Sanni Manga, a lecturer at the Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto (UDUS), described the ongoing job racketeering in Nasarawa as “an ugly trend” that shouldn’t be allowed to exist in society. He worried that someone unqualified might end up getting the job because he could bribe his way in.

“The consequences are obvious. When you bring a round hole and put it in a square peg, it will not fit in,” he said. “Most times if such a person is employed, he will do the wrong thing, putting aside professionalism.”

He urged the government to devise mechanisms to put things in order in the state and asked authorities to ensure candidates are interviewed and screened by a panel of experts before they are employed.

NSTSC chairman, Abubakar Muhammad, said he knew nothing about the racketeering when Campus Reporters contacted him via phone. Biliyaminu, one of the racketeers whom we contacted, also denied his involvement, despite several accounts from job seekers accusing him of defrauding them in the name of job offers. 

However, John Mamman, the commissioner for education in the state,  claimed he was unaware of the job racketeering. “Now that you have informed me, I will take it up and find out. Anybody caught doing that against government civil service regulation is uncalled for,” he told Campus Reporter.

 

This story was funded by the Campus Reporter project of the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development. 



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