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Northerners arrested for attempt to take Lagos slots

The Lagos State Government has called for the arrest and trial of six northern candidates participating in the Nigerian Army recruitment process who claimed to be indigenes of the state.

A viral video surfaced earlier on Wednesday showing six candidates in the recruitment process, who hailed from Kaduna State, claiming Kosofe Local Government Area, Lagos Island Local Government Area, and Oshodi Isolo Local Government Area, respectively, as their local governments of origin.

By claiming to hail from Lagos, the candidates intended to secure the slots designated to Lagos State indigenes.

The video sparked reactions from indigenes of Lagos, with many saying that Lagosians are being short-changed in the recruitment process.

Responding to an inquiry by The PUNCH in a telephone chat on Wednesday, the Lagos State Commissioner for Information Strategy, Mr Gbenga Omotoso, said the matter had not been officially reported to the state government.

He, however, said any attempt by a non-Lagosian to claim Lagos indigeneship was criminal and demanded that the police should arrest and try the culprits if found culpable.

“We don’t have the report yet. But it is criminal to attempt to claim that you are from Lagos when you are not. It is what the police should take up, arrest the said candidates and try them,” Omotoso said, adding that “it is perjury and is punishable under the law of the land.”

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army confirmed the arrest of the six candidates.

A statement on Wednesday by the Director,  Army Public Relations,  Maj. Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, said the arrest of the candidates was a testament to the transparency and credibility of the recruitment process.

The statement read, “The attention of the Nigerian Army has been drawn to a circulating video on social media depicting the arrest of some fraudulent candidates of the ongoing 86 Regular Recruits Intake, who were caught attempting to short-change indigenous candidates of Lagos State through dubious means.

“The NA wishes to state that the arrest of the fraudulent candidates was a result of the commitment of the NA to upholding a transparent and credible recruitment process in line with its core values of integrity and fairness. The video is a pointer to one of the processes to which the candidates were subjected to ensure only true indigenes of a particular State are recruited, using the slots of that state and non-indigenes.

“The video in itself, therefore, clearly shows that the process is transparent, as the State Representative, who is a prominent member of the recruitment team has been part and parcel of the process and was given unhindered access to do her job by scrutinizing the candidates’ State of origin, to ascertain the genuineness of their indigeneship claims.”

Onyema said an investigation will be conducted to determine fraudulent activities and to identify those behind the fraudulent act.

“The state representative must identify non-indigenes amongst candidates applying for recruitment and this is applicable in other states of the federation.

“We wish to inform the general public that the fraudulent act perpetrated by the three candidates who attempted to secure vacancies designated for candidates with Lagos State indigeneship is a serious breach of our recruitment process and will not be condoned.

“We want to assure the public that a thorough investigation will be conducted to ascertain the extent of these fraudulent activities and to identify any individual(s) or unscrupulous syndicate(s) involved. We are dedicated to ensuring that only the most qualified and deserving candidates are selected to serve in the NA,” the statement added.

He assured that the Army would work in synergy with relevant authorities to bring those being the act to book.

Onyema, however, warned other candidates seeking to manipulate the process, saying that they would be punished in accordance with the law if caught.

He said, “The NA will continue to work closely with relevant authorities to ensure that those responsible for this misconduct are held accountable. The culprits involved will be handed over to the appropriate prosecuting agency. The NA is committed to upholding the rule of law and ensuring that justice is served in this matter.

“Consequently, we urge all prospective candidates to adhere to the principles of honesty and integrity throughout the recruitment process, as any attempt to manipulate the recruitment process will be met with the full force of the law.

“The NA remains resolute in its mission to recruit the best and most deserving individuals to serve our nation. We appreciate the support and cooperation of the public, as we work to maintain the integrity of our recruitment process.”

A former Minister of Communications and former General Officer Commanding, Three Armoured Division Nigerian Army, Maj.-Gen. Tajudeen Olanrewaju (retd.), has called on the Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja, to investigate what he described as “the violation of the constitutional rights of indigenes of Lagos State.”

Olanrewaju stressed that the incident is “procedurally wrong, constitutionally and democratically unacceptable, and it is a big slap on the national goal of achieving peace and unity of the country.”

“As for the ruling Lagos State government and responsible agencies, including Governance Advisory Council of All Progressives Congress in Lagos State, they are implored to step in and stop those who dish out fake indigene identity to non-indigenous residents in Lagos State in general,” he added.

The former GOC, in a statement on Wednesday, who noted that “Our IBILE indegenship application conditions are too porous and susceptible to abuses,” said “the Chairman of the Oshodi-Isolo LGA must step aside for thorough investigation to take place. He cannot investigate himself.

“Second, the Executive Governor/Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice are both respectfully requested to present an enabling law to the House of Assembly to be passed on ‘The Verification System Unit’ that is autonomous and staffed by IBILE Indigeneous Staff, and established in the five Divisions of the state.

“Its function is to liaise with the Armed Forces and link with Governor’s Office, Alausa. They will deal with recruitment and follow up with the interview processes and monitor those shortlisted for admission into the Armed Forces. This is what most of the states in the north do now. If this approach is fine-tuned properly, the law will help to reduce abuses associated with Lagos State slots allocated to it.

“This method is doable and feasible, provided there is collective action and purposeful desire and political willpower.”

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