Recruitment agency in job scam claims airlifts hundreds more abroad

First Choice Recruitment and Consultancy Agency uasin gishu scam

A section of the 118 candidates who would be flying out beginning Tuesday to work in either Qatar, Poland or Italy, during a thanksgiving and farewell for them held at First Choice Recruitment and Consultancy Agency office in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu on March 12, 2023. The recruitment agency has been locked in a controversy of jobs scam eliciting complaints from disgruntled individuals.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya I Nation Media Group

An Eldoret-based recruitment agency that has been dogged by controversy is this week airlifting 118 young Kenyans to ‘live, work and study’ in various countries abroad.

This comes despite the Uasin Gishu County Assembly incriminating the firm in various alleged malpractices and recommending that its operating licence be revoked.
First Choice Recruitment and Consultancy Agency has been accused of swindling desperate jobless Kenyans millions of shillings, an allegation it has vehemently denied.

The claims stemmed from various job seekers who had lodged a petition at the county assembly, forming the basis of an investigation that resulted in a recent report tabled before MCAs.
Meanwhile, the agency has continued with its operations: On Sunday, the firm organised a thanksgiving service for 118 individuals who are set to jet out of the country beginning Tuesday to Poland, Qatar and Italy to begin work as cleaners, waiters, security guards, gardeners, chefs among other occupations.

The management of First Choice Recruitment and Consultancy Agency  is now blaming a witch-hunt from competition for its recent woes.

At Sunday’s thanksgiving ceremony, however, the agency’s Managing Director Judy Chepchirchir said they have recruited over 8,000 people, and has blamed her competitors for soiling the firm’s reputation.

First Choice

Judy Chepchirchir, Managing Director of First Choice Recruitment and Consultancy Agency in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County, and Rev. David Samoei, during a thanksgiving and farewell for 118 people going to work in Qatar, Poland and Italy from Tuesday.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya I Nation Media Group

“This whole issue arose after those who had applied to go to Qatar for World Cup jobs. But it was not to be because part of the group did not travel despite paying because of various challenges that arose. We have since discussed with the individuals to change their priority areas and apply afresh whereby some bought the idea and others disagreed,” she said.

“It was unfortunate that those who disagreed with the arrangement even after asking them to cancel their prior successful applications and seek refunds through the channels provided began accusing us of swindling them. Those who were to go to Qatar for six months and agreed to cancel their applications and apply afresh will now enjoy a two-year contract to work in various countries abroad,” she said.

Disgruntled youths

In November 2022, agitated youths from Uasin Gishu stormed the county commissioner’s office in Eldoret while waving twigs and placards.

They petitioned the county government to help them get back their hard-earned money from the firm.

They accused the agency of collecting the money from them with the promise of placing them in World Cup-related jobs in Qatar, as well as withholding their documents, including passports and academic certificates.

They said they had been promised work as receptionists, cashiers, and cleaners in Qatar and other countries and had parted with between Sh40,000 and Sh200,000.
In its report endorsed by the county assembly, the 12-member committee that investigated the issues petitioned the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to probe and take action against Ms Jepchirchir on the allegations of obtaining money through pretense, extortion, and issuing of bad cheques.

According to the county assembly ad-hoc committee that investigated the claims of swindling, the recruitment and consultancy agency exploited the influence of political class and protection from security agencies to swindle job seekers millions in the World Cup and Europe jobs scandal.

Uasin Gishu County Speaker Philip Muigei said the assembly, after investigating the firm’s dealings, recommended that the agency’s business permit be revoked because it had allegedly conned over 200 youths millions of shillings, with a promise of jobs abroad.

But Ms Jepchirchir said on Sunday that no one has ever taken her to court over the same, asking those aggrieved to come forward and solve the matter amicably.

Several refunds

“I am trying to bridge the high unemployment gap in the country. The agency will refund anyone who cancels their request and we have since processed several refunds. We observed diligence in all our work and those who have already secured employment abroad are asked to invest widely of their money,” she said.

One of the beneficiaries who spoke at the event, Mr Mike Kilel from Bomet County, said he missed the Qatar World Cup job, but after a series of demonstrations, he went back to the agency and resubmitted his application and will now depart for Qatar for two years.

“I failed to go last year but I am now heading back there. I am delighted because the opportunity will change my life despite waiting for the opportunity since May last year,” he said.

Byran Chumba, another individual leading for Qatar said he has secured a job in the Gulf nation to work as a manager.

“It has been a long journey but at last we are leaving the country Tuesday. I will depart aboard Ethiopian airlines and this will be an opportunity for a lifetime,” he said.

Ms Jepchirchir said the entire lot of 118 successful individuals will be leaving the country in batches to their various destinations, starting this week.

According to the report tabled a week ago, the recruitment agency received over 8,000 applications from people seeking greener pastures abroad and only 800 of them were successful.

The committee noted that the agency used the influence of political and business class including Jackson Mandago (Former, Governor Uasin Gishu), Simon Chelugui (Former Cabinet Secretary, Water Sanitation and Irrigation), and David Lagat (Businessman) who graced the launch of the employment scheme in Eldoret on May 20, 2021.

The report further claimed the agency’s director enjoyed unlawful protection from a DCI officer and a police officer in Eldoret, frustrating efforts to push for justice.

“Petitioners made several attempts to report the issue to the security agencies but were met with uncooperative officers,” the team stated.