..Ministry ignores directive to recall staff
By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor
Convinced that the man, who blew the lid on the alleged squandering of $229,000 and N800,000 by top officials of the Department of Technical Cooperation in Africa, DTCA, was unjustly sacked from his post, the Federal Government has ordered the immediate recall of the whistleblower, Mr. Ntia Thompson.
The FG ordered that Thompson must be recalled by the DTCA to his post pending the completion of investigation of the alleged fraud at the agency by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The damning directive, with the title, RE: VICTIMIZATION AND WRONGFUL SUSPENSION FROM DUTY FOR EXPOSING FRAUD IN DIRECTORATE OF TECHNICAL COOPERATION IN AFRICA (DTCA), rejected the insinuation by the acting DG of the agency that the Thompson was fired for violating oath of secrecy and other acts of indiscipline.
The Head of Civil Service of the Federation, HCSF, Winifred Oyo-Ita, in the communication, drew the attention of the Permanent Secretary of the Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Acting DG of the DTCA, Alhaji Mohammed Kachallah, to the fact that investigation had established that Thompson was sacked for having the guts to report the alleged embezzlement of the $229,000 to the EFCC, and that the offence was not punishable by sack under the civil service rules.
The HCSF warned that the government would not condone acts of misconduct by public servants under any guise, as it was totally committed to safeguarding the policy of government on the protection of whistleblowers, and directed the full implementation of the policy by all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government.
The letter directing the immediate recall of Thompson from his premeditated and seemingly premature sack by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, who oversees the operations of the DTCA, was signed by the Permanent Secretary in charge of Service Policies and Strategies in the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation, Mrs. Nuratu Batagarawa.
The reinstatement letter dated April 5, 2017, and addressed to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with reference No. HCSF/LU/CORR/MFA/803/72, has already been made available to the Presidency, through the Office of the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Engr Babachir Lawal.
A copy of the letter, sighted by Sunday Vanguard, in one of the Federal Government agencies last night, indicated that it had also been copied to the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission and Related Offences, ICPC.
The letter said, “I write to acknowledge the receipt of your letter Ref. No: PSO/C.2 3D/XVII of 7th March, 2017 on the above subject and to inform you that a careful review of Mr. Ntia Thompson’s letter and the response from the Directorate for Technical Cooperation in Africa reveals as follows:
- That the reported case of (alleged) fraud against the Ag. Director General, was made to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) by Mr. Ntia Thompson in April,
- That in April 2016, Mr. Ntia Thompson was confronted by the DCTA management with the allegations of violation of Oath of Secrecy, absence from work without approval, refusal to carry
out lawful instructions and making false claims against government officials; and
iii. That the allegations brought against Mr. Ntia Thompson by the DTCA and his subsequent suspension as well as eventual retirement from service was carried out only after he had reported the case of (alleged) fraud against the Ag. Director-General of the Directorate. “As you are aware, by the provisions of the Public Service Rules (PSR), the offences alleged to have been committed by Mr. Ntia Thompson are not punishable by retirement from service. Also,
you will recall that the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation vide letter Ref. No:HCSF/LU/CO RR/MFAl803/86 of 23rd February, 2017, had specifically directed that the suspension and all disciplinary procedures instituted against the officer be withdrawn pending the outcome of the ongoing (EFCC) investigation of the case of (alleged) fraud in the Directorate. Your letter of 7th March, 2017 did not reflect compliance with this directive and did not provide any update on the EFCC investigation. “It is important to reiterate that the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation will not condone acts of misconduct by Public Servants under any guise.
“However, she is committed to safeguarding the policy of Government on the protection of whistleblowers and directs its full implementation by all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government.
“You are therefore requested to furnish this office with the level of compliance of the earlier directive conveyed in the letter of 23rd February, 2017, Ref. No: HCSF/LU/CORRfMFAl803/86, and any other development on the matter as may be necessary.
“Please accept the assurances of the warm regards of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation,” the letter concluded. But Sunday Vanguard learned last night from sources in the ministry and Aso Rock Presidential Villa, that there is yet to be any form of compliance to the memo of February 23, 2017.
However, the embattled acting DG of the DTCA, in his defence of the sacking of Thompson to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Onyeama Geoffrey, premised the action on acts of indiscipline and leakage of official secrets.
In the three-page letter dated January 24, 2017 with reference No. DTCA/DG/003, and copied to the Minister of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kachallah listed other offences, which led to the sack of the assistant director in charge of Servicom, as violations of Oath of Secrecy by divulging confidential information on disciplinary matters pending consideration by constituted authorities, absence from work without leave, refusal to carry out lawful instructions and making false claims against government officials.
Although the DG denied that Thompson was fired for whistleblowing by reporting alleged graft committed by him to the EFCC, he nonetheless admitted that he had not been indicted by the anti-graft agency.
Kachallah said, “Management has no evidence before it to suggest that Mr. Thompson wrote any petition to the EFCC. Also note, Your Excellency, that during the period the officer was reprimanded for disclosing official information without authorization and for his absence from work without leave, I was neither under any investigation by the EFCC nor have I been indicted till date for any wrongdoing by the EFCC or any other investigative agency for that matter,” the acting DG submitted to the minister.