A witness, Michael Udeh, Head of Anti-fraud Unit of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, has alleged that the 56 sacked officers of the corps were recruited through a “racketeering syndicate” and so they are fake officers.
Udeh was led in testimony by the NSCDC Defence Counsel, Ani Joel, in a case filed by the 56 sacked officers of the corps against the Interior Minister before the National Industrial Court demanding for their immediate reinstatement.
They are also seeking an order of court for payment of N230 million accrued salaries and allowances.
Udeh told the court that he headed the facts finding committee that visited Jos, Plateau State on December 3, 2013 and retrieved the appointment letters of the plaintiffs, whom he said came into the Corps through the backdoor with forged appointment letters.
During cross-examination by Timloh-Jimam, plaintiffs’ counsel, who asked whether he was aware vacancies in the NSCDC was advertised in 2012, of which the plaintiffs applied and were employed, he answered: “No.
“There was no such advertisement and recruitment in 2012.”
A photocopy of the retrieved appointment was shown to the defence witness to read and tell who signed the letter, he answered: “I don’t know.”
When asked which part of the letter he could tell was forged, he said: “When it was taken to our database, we discovered they were fake.”
“I put it to you that all the appointment letters issued to the claimants/plaintiffs were signed by one Obiajulu Obiageli, a Commandant, on behalf of the Commandant General of the Corps,” Timloh-Jimam further said, but Udeh said he was not aware of that.
When Udeh was told that the same way he was employed into the Corps 14 years ago was the same the plaintiffs were employed, he vehemently denied it, saying: “It’s not the same way.”
Shortly after the cross-examination, Ani told the court that he could not continue with the defence since his second witness, Obiajulu Obiagel, was not in court due to ill health and applied for an adjournment to enable her come and testify.
The prosecuting counsel did not object to the application.
Justice Amadi then adjourned the case until March 25 for continuation of defence.
The aggrieved officers are also asking the Industrial court, presided over by Justice Kenneth Amadi to compel the NSCDC to pay them N800 million as general damages for what they described as “unjust and unlawful” withdrawal of their employment letters on December 3, 2013.
Joined in the suit are the Governing Board, Nigeria Security and civil Defence Corps, Fire Service, Immigration and Prison Service and the Commandant General of NSCDC as 2nd and 4th defendants, with the Corps and Interior Minister as 1st and 3rd defendants.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the aggrieved NSCDC Officers, through their Counsel told the Court that they were properly recruited into the corps on April 16, 2012 via an advertisement, but were on December 3, 2013 tricked into submitting original copies of their appointment letters on the guise of “straightening our records.”
The officers claimed that they were 105 officers that attended the so-called screening to “straighten their records” conducted by some visiting officials from the Corps’ Headquarters in Abuja, but that at the end, 36 appointment letters were returned without theirs.
According to the plaintiffs, since the retrieval of their appointment letters and purported verbal suspension on December 3, 2013, nobody has received any letter of communication telling them either they are sacked or not.
They prayed the court to order that their verbal and oral suspension by their commandant was null, void and of no effect and order the defendants to immediately reinstate them to their status quo in the various commands of the Corps as posted in April 2012, when they were lawfully employed