Emotions ran high in the Uasin Gishu County Assembly on 17th August 18, 2023, as victims of another scam in the county told their stories. The sitting, attended by the Senate Labour Committee and MCAs from the county, aimed at probing the alleged defrauding of victims in a fake overseas jobs scam.
In their submissions, the victims who attended the sittings tearfully recounted how they struggled to raise money for the program. Among them were victims who paid to secure learning opportunities abroad and those seeking employment in various countries.
First Choice Recruitment and Consultancy Agency, the firm linked to the recruitment scandal, has hit the headlines for over a year. During the 2022 FIFA World Cup season , the agency promised to help job seekers secure work opportunities at one of the world’s most popular and prestigious events.
However, the over 200 victims who paid lump sums of between Sh40,000 to Sh200,000 didn’t get the promised jobs. Many hoped to work as cleaners, receptionists, and cashiers in Qatar during the event. The agency has since blamed the failed travels on delayed visa processing.
On the other hand, victims who aimed at securing learning opportunities abroad claim to have parted with between Sh150,000 and Sh500,000. The over 10,000 victims had paid varying amounts of money to the agency on diverse dates to secure learning opportunities in Australia, Poland, and Canada.
Many unsuspecting youths haven’t travelled to these countries to date. This has caused them so much pain and anguish, as seen during the sitting on Thursday. The potential immigrant students and their parents narrated how the agency took them for a wild goose chase.
Rose Chepkirui, one of the victims from Nandi County, recounted her experience to the committee. She is one of the victims who expected to travel to Qatar for World Cup-related jobs. Rose narrated how her parents had to sell a parcel of land to help her secure the work opportunity.
Rose said her parents hoped that after securing a job, she would make enough money to help them acquire another piece of land. However, when she told them she wouldn’t travel, her father fell into depression and died later, leaving her disabled mother under her care.
Besides, she recounted how the founder and director of the agency Judy Jepchirchir had been impolite and discourteous. Rose said that after reporting her father’s death to Judy, she responded that it wasn’t her problem.
“My mother is disabled, and she struggled until she sold our piece of land. At home, I told my father that I need to go out of the country, and they helped me with some money. After that, I returned and told him that I’m not going anymore. My father started getting sick until I lost him due to depression, and this lady, if you tell her, she responds, “That’s not my problem,” she said.
What surprised the committee most was that the First Choice Recruitment and Consultancy founder and director snubbed the sitting. According to the committee, Judy Jepchirchir, who was summoned to attend the sitting, failed to show up because her lawyer was away for a seminar.
However, reports indicate that the director has links with prominent tycoons who have made her untouchable. Earlier, the Inspector General of Police, Japhet Koome, had indicated that Judy Jepchirchir could be apprehended. This is yet to happen as the agency’s director is still as free as a bird.
According to victims of the recruitment scandal, reporting the agency to the police hasn’t helped. Those who’ve tried reporting have been asked to visit the agency’s offices and demand their refunds.
It is surprising to note that when the victims go to the police to report the matter, they are told to go and demand a refund of their money from Jepchirchir in her officeUasin Gishu County Assembly Majority leader Gilbert Chepkonga
Besides, an ad hoc committee established by the Uasin Gishu county assembly headed by Mr Chepkonga cautioned the public members from acting presumptuously. Also, like the victims, the committee indicated that pleas to have agency officials arrested by the police and the agency’s operating license revoked, have fallen on deaf ears.
After hearing all the submissions, the Senate Committee and MCAs promised the victims they would get justice. They will summon Inspector General Japhet Koome and Data Protection Commissioner Immaculate Kassait to shed more light, and a report of the findings will be made in due course.