It has come to light that the Department of State Services (DSS), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) allegedly disregarded separate petitions filed against the Chairman of the Federal Character Commission (FCC), Dr. Muheeba Farida Dankaka, who is currently facing probe by the House of Representatives.
The petitions, according to a report by The Whistler, contained serious allegations of corruption, job racketeering, nepotism, and certificate forgery, among others, leveled against Mrs. Dankaka by federal commissioners within the FCC.
These petitions, which were submitted in both 2021 and 2022, accused Mrs. Dankaka of running a job racketeering ring within the FCC in disregard for the very Act that established the Commission.
The allegations also reportedly pointed to her involvement in nepotism and running a corrupt network that favoured certain individuals in federal appointments.
The situation escalated on Wednesday, as Mrs. Dankaka and some of the commissioners engaged in a heated exchange of accusations and counter-accusations during a hearing before the House of Representatives ad hoc committee investigating job racketeering at federal establishments.
The hearing shed light on the gravity of the accusations and the urgency of the matter.
However, what raises eyebrows and adds more controversy to the situation is the alleged inaction by the DSS, EFCC, and ICPC, regarding these petitions.
Despite alleged substantial evidence brought forth by the federal commissioners, the anti-corruption and law enforcement agencies seemingly turned a blind eye to the matter, failing to initiate any formal investigation or take appropriate actions against Dankaka who has been the FCC chairperson since July 2, 2020, when former President Muhammadu Buhari swore in current members of the Commission for a five-year term.
In the petition addressed to the ICPC chairman on January 18, 2021, two of the commissioners who wrote on behalf of others noted that prior to their nomination by President Buhari, they had been inundated with allegations that FCC was notorious “as the source of job racketeering” and that lopsided job postings in various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) “were not corrected by the Commission as required by law”.
The commissioners — Augustine O. Wokocha and Abdul Wasiu Bawa-Allah — noted that “the sacrosanct foundation of the creation of the Commission in section 153(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) is that application and enforcement of the principle of federal character” in government appointments and job postings.
They accused Dankaka of violating several provisions in the FCC Act and hijacking jobs meant to be distributed equally among different sections of the country despite knowing that “the Commission was patterned along parliamentary structure” to ensure fair and equitable distribution of employment opportunities, social and economic amenities, services, and infrastructural facilities “are jointly carried out by all states representatives and inclusive of a representative from FCT”
“Painfully, the chairman of the Commission has since the assumption of office held members to ransom, taking over members’ jobs and or giving out members’ assignments to directors and or administrative consultants in the Commission with impunity. Since we assumed duty as the chairman and members of the Commission, the chairman has been committing one form of grave infractions or the other and advice and cautions rendered to her were rejected by her,” said the commissioners
Listing some of the sins of Dankaka, the commissioners added, “…one of the malfeasances, perhaps the most egregious is her unilateral decisions to employ 22 people of whom 50% of them are not only from her state but from her senatorial district. The chairman hurriedly wrote to the IPPIS upon sighting our allegation to that effect in our memo requesting for the cancelation of the said recruitment which she had already denied that she knew nothing about. A copy of the letter addressed to the Director IPPIS is attached as annexure ‘C’”
They added, “There are more infractions that should be of interest to your exalted agency and it includes but not limited to the following:
“A. Diversion of public funds and keeping secret details of the financial transactions of the Commission from Hon. Commissioners. Failure to release to Commissioners duty tour allowances since assumption of office till date but releases same to herself and her aides and her consistent failure to disburse monthly running cost to the state offices of the Commission in the Country thereby crippling the statutory responsibilities of the state offices, this act is not only criminal but unpatriotic.
“Additionally the security personnel engaged on casual basis who are on meager stipends of N10,000.00 (Ten Thousand Naira) monthly were last paid in July, 2020. Our findings revealed that funds budgeted for running cost and security personnel monthly stipend were diverted to unbudgeted items, a typical example is the payment for the administrative consultants which she hired who were never budgeted for in the 2020 budget. Further to the fact that these administrative consultants are illegally given offices in the Commission as permanent staff to the detriment and displacement to the staff of the Commission, illegally allowing the consultants to work on the official files, minutes on mails among others. Most requests made by Commissioners and or staff of the Commission are ‘KW’ by the chairman while she quickly grants and approve most requests that directly affect her and her office. The germane question is where does she gets the money to pay herself and her aides and purchase items for herself while Commissioners and staff of the Commission are left to their fate in this regard.
“B. The Commission made far reaching decisions on 7th November, 2013 wherein the approve limit of the chairman for goods and services and capital projects respectively shall be in conformity with the approved limit of the federal government as contained in circular ref. No. SGF/013/1/5/1/111/57. The award of the sum of N35, 706,002.00 (Thirty Five Million, Seven Hundred and Six Thousand and Twenty-Two Naira) to a contractor for media advert was over and above the budgetary provision for publicity and advertisement which is N7,409,534 (Seven Million, Four Hundred and Nine Thousand, Five Hundred and Thirty Four Naira). Even the content of the media advert is shallow and thereby required thorough investigation to determine the actual cost expended on the media advert. A copy of the plenary decision is attached as annexure ‘D’ and Federal Character Commission amended budget 2020 as annexure `E’ respectively .
“C. Similarly, our investigation revealed that the chairman approved the purchase of three vehicles for the Commission without recourse to the plenary for consideration and approval one of the vehicles was reported to have been given out unilaterally to the head of audit unit by the chairman while he was carrying out internal audit of the Commission and this followed the unilateral amendment of FCC civil service structure with the removal of procurement section from the department of general services in clear violation of Section 9 of the Federal Character Commission (Establishment) Act. The vehicles were neither registered nor insured and apart from procurement document nothing to show that those vehicles belong to the Commission. Five vehicles that are pool vehicles are in the custody of the chairman.
“D. The job racketeering status for which the commission is known for is believed to be well and alive under indiscriminate granting of waivers not to advertise to MDAs without enforcing the principle of federal character. There is a guideline at the Commission that clearly stating the procedure to follow before a waiver not to advertise is granted to MDAs. The committee Chairman under which a particular MDA seeking for waiver, must go through the analyzed nominal roll of the organization vis-a-vis the character balancing index (CBI) and thereafter render an advise to the chairman for the granting of the waiver. In a flagrant disobedience to this guideline which is criminal in the Commission Act for anyone who flout it, the chairman is well known to liaise directly with CEO’s, sorts things directly with them, granting waiver and certificate of compliance without recourse to the commission as enshrined in Rule 28 of the Rules for Plenary, 2015 and thereby creates injury to many job seekers and in the process build animosity among Nigerians.
“E. We also noted from our investigation that in their quest for cover up of the job racketeering, the normal process mandatory for the office of the Monitoring and Enforcement to prepare summary of activities of the operational committees monthly and yearly for the Commission but because the director in the department is the anointed man of the chairman and the shady deals are jointly carried out and issues of waivers and compliance are shrouded in secrecy hence the failure to prepare the report for the Commission which is another clear violation of the Constitution and the laws of the Commission. Copies of the report are attached as annexure “F &G” for your perusal.
“F. The chairman of the Commission intentionally used her office to step down five contracts for 2020 which had sailed through the Commission’s tender’s board process and approval for the award of the contracts to the most qualified that were cleared for the job. We urge your Commission to investigate the rationale behind the stepping down of those contracts when the Federal Government 1,2,J fifth/ Jordan,’ ctinds to the Commission’s account for the jobs. The fundamental issue is that assuming the budget performance of the 2020 appropriation was not extended to 31St March, 2021, the funds wouldn’t have been available now for the 5 contracts again which the Commission requested for in the budget and same was granted because the funds had already been retired back to the government account in December, 2020.”
The aggrieved Commissioners had warned that “…Dr. Muheeba Farida Dankaka is found of lobbying, influencing and luring anyone or bodies of authorities that receive complaints against her and we believe that ICPC will stand tall in the interest of the country and her people at large to get to the root of the matter by causing a forensic investigation to be made into this matter thoroughly by disciplined officers who will go beyond the scope of this petition owing to the level of the rot in the Commission and prosecute the culprits so as to serve as deterrent to others.”
Prior to filing the petition against Dankaka, the Commissioners had through an internal memo dated November 18, 2020 called her attention to their displeasure with the way she was running the FCC “with clear disregard” to provisions of the Constitution, public service rules and other relevant laws and regulations.
They recalled mandating some Commissioners led by retired Major General Suleiman Barau to prevail on Dankaka for “corrective actions”.
They, however, regretted that Danaka “not only rejected the move but insulted, embarrassed and humiliated the team” adding that she “also went ahead to warned (sic) and threatened (sic) our honorable representatives never to attempt taking that up with you again.
“The chairman went ahead to call the team such unprintable name as 37 characters. This is clearly an affront on the entire Commission, our respective states that nominated us, the President of the Federal republic of Nigeria who appointed us and by implication the entire country, just to put mildly.”
In another petition filed against Dankaka before the EFCC, a civil society group, Lygel Youths and Leadership Initiatives, accused the FCC boss of falsifying certificates and misrepresenting her identity to secure her appointment by President Buhari as Chairman of the Commission.
While Dankaka was alleged to have claimed that she held a honorary PhD from the Pacific Western University, Denver, Colorado, USA, in 2007, the group noted that the National Universities Commission (NUC) had declared the University’s study campus in Owerri where Dankaka allegedly got the PhD from as “illegal and consequently shut it down,” hence had no capacity to issue such certificate.
Attaching different documents to the petition to back their claims, they raised other issues around the FCC chairman’s academic qualifications, including inconsistencies in the names on her MSc and WAEC certificates:
“That Dr. Muheeba Farida Dankaka’s name on the master degree certificate obtained from Ahmadu Bello University is Muiba Nike Salau which is not consistent with the name presented to the Senate by President Muhammadu Buhari -(Muheeba Farida Dankaka).
“That Dr. Muheeba Farida Dankaka’s name appears on the first degree certificate obtained from Bayero University, Kano as Muibat Adenike Salawu, the name is also at variance with the name officially presented by the president to the Senate for screening and confirmation and the name with which she appends her signature for official documents in office.
“That Dr. Muheeba Farida Dankaka’s name on the West African Examinations Council School Certificate obtained in 1978 is Salawu Muibat Adenike which is not consistent with other documents she claimed to have had. It is clear from our investigation carried out on the Testimonial obtained some years later that she enrolled at St Clare’s (ANG.) Girls’ Grammar School in 1975 and graduated in 1978.
“It is a notorious fact that she spent three years in the Senior Secondary School, a claim that was not consistent with the then educational system in the country. Further to this, there was nothing to show that she accounted for the missing years before her enrolment in the school mentioned.”
Meanwhile, AFTER allegedly failing to get the ICPC and EFCC to investigate and prosecute Dankaka for corruption and job racketeering, the FCC commissioners approached the Department of State Services (DSS) with the same allegations in a petition dated September 22, 2022.
In the petition, Wokocha and Bawa-Allah urged the DSS Director-General to “carry out a covert operation” at the FCC headquarters with a view to obtaining evidence of the alleged job racketeering ballooning under Dankaka’s watch.
They warned that failure to stop the FCC chairman “could grow to breed more corruption and potentially (lead to) death”.
One of the FCC commissioners said that despite the petitions to the different agencies, nothing had been done to stop the trend.
When Dankaka appeared before the House of Reps committee investigating the matter on Wednesday, she swore that “I had made my money” before joining the FCC and didn’t need to soil her hands to get rich.
At the resumed hearing, Moses Anaughe, the commissioner representing Delta State, openly accused Dankaka of selling employment slots and sometimes demands 10 percent of the total vacancies in MDAs.
“Dr Dankaka will request the chief executives to come to her office and discuss 10 per cent. She does collect 10 per cent from all MDAs of all the employment she is signing. All those 10 per cent she is collecting, those are the slots that she employs agents that are selling.
“I have two employment letters here of her children in juicy agencies where the annual salary is N6.1 million; the other is N8.2 million. I have the appointment letters here.
“I just also want to inform this committee if she finds any agency doing employment that is paying more than these MDAs, she will move them to that MDA. She moves them from MDA to MDA.
“She has a lot of agents selling slots for her. After selling, they have a central pool where they remit all the monies, whereby they will withdraw and collect USSD and give it to her. I have all the account details here. In my submission, we have a lot of things to reveal.”
But responding to the allegation, the FCC chairman said “I now believe the adage that says when you fight corruption, corruption will fight back.
“I did not come to this place (FCC) to make money but to serve my father’s land.
“I swear with Almighty God, apart from the oath, I can take an oath with the Quran. Before I came here, I had made my name. I had made my money.
“Before I got to this place (FCC), they were selling slots. The place was like a marketplace. You can find out from people that live in Abuja if I am lying,” she said.