Recruitment: Lawyer threatens to drag NNPC to court over age discrimination

An Abuja-based lawyer, Mr Pelumi Olajengbesi, has threatened to drag the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to court for setting age limits for applicants, who are intending to participate in its recruitment exercise.

He described the NNPC’s recruitment process as “discriminatory”, stressing that it is against the provisions of the constitution.

In a letter addressed to the Group Managing Director, NNPC, Dr Maikanti Baru, on March 26, Olajengbesi vowed to approach the court to ensure protection of the fundamental human rights of Nigerians who are qualified to apply but are barred from participating because of age criteria.

The NNPC, as part of criteria for Graduate Trainee, required applicants to have graduated from an accredited University/Polytechnic/Monotechnic not earlier than 2014.

The criteria also required that applicants must not be more than 28 years of age as at Dec. 31, 2018.

But Olajengbesi pointed out that the criteria and process violated section 3(e)(iv) of the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure), 2009 which protected the public interest of Nigerians.

“Following the advertisement for the 2019 NNPC recruitment for graduate Trainee, Experienced Hires, Senior Officers and Supervisory Cadre on your official website dated March 13, 2019 of which the criteria for application include that an applicant must not be above the ages of 28, 34 and 37 respectively.

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“I wish to express outright disapproval on the above set criteria used by the Corporation in the ongoing recruitment as being discriminatory, segregatory and exclusive to the disadvantage of qualified Nigerians who may wish to participate in the process.

“My disapproval of this age discriminatory recruitment process is anchored on the provision of Section 42 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), which stops any person, organisation or body from discriminating against any citizen of Nigeria,” Olajengbesi stated in the letter.

According to him, the action of NNPC also violates section 17(3) of the Nigerian constitution which provides for the opportunity of securing adequate means of livelihood and abhors all unequal processes in the labour process.

“The NNPC, as a federal entity, must be at the vanguard of safeguarding and justifying this provision through its dealings with the public.

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“It is rather disheartening that an esteemed Corporation such as NNPC has set itself on the path of total regard of constitutional provisions while being an agent of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

The lawyer therefore, gave the NNPC 48 hours ultimatum to reverse its decision on age limit or face legal action.

“Take notice that I shall proceed without further delay, after 48 hours of this notice, to seek protection through the court, of the fundamental rights of the Nigerian citizens inherently qualified to apply for the advertised positions but who are barred by the organisation’s age discriminatory criteria from participating in the process,” he said.

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