© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
NIS Recruitment Scam: Witness reveals how ex-minister Moro abused office
ADENIYI Adebayo, an operative of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has testified against the former minister of Interior, Abba Moro in his ongoing trial over allegation of the Nigeria Immigration Services (NIS) recruitment scam.
Adebayo who is the 12th prosecution witness told the court that Moro, alongside three others, created an e-recruitment portal to fraudulently collect funds from job applicants.
His accomplices include the former permanent secretary in the ministry, Anastasia Daniel-Nwobi; an ex-director in the ministry, Felix Alayebami, and Drexel Tech Nigeria Ltd.
Moro and others were been prosecuted for laundering and procurement fraud, thus, using his office to unilaterally contrive a policy that would short change Nigerians while enriching a private company ── Drexel Tech Nigeria Ltd.
Drexel Tech Nigeria Limited is the firm that was given the recruitment contract into the NIS, held on March 17, 2013, when Moro (the first defendant in the suit) was interior minister.
The EFCC, in a statement released on Thursday, noted that Adebayo in cross-examination by counsel of the first defendant, Paul Erokoro, (SAN) said Moro and Drexel Tech Nig. Ltd did not follow the rules of the Procurement Act.
Adebayo testified that the “contract agreement was done with Drexel Tech Global Ltd but that Drexel Tech Nig. Ltd was used to execute the contract which it did not bid for”.
According to the paper, the witness said the board of Immigrations, Fire Service, Civil Defence and Prisons were not carried along in the contract award process.
“This act, according to Adeniyi, constituted an abuse of office on the part of Moro,” the EFCC said.
The trial was adjourned by Justice Nnamdi Dimgba until November 25, for the continuation of the cross-examination of the witness.
The accused had intermittently been faced with trials bordering on an 11-count charge of procurement fraud and money laundering.
They were alleged to have defrauded a total of 675,675 Nigerian job seekers who were made to pay N1,000 each as application fee through an e-payment platform for recruitment into the Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS, on March 17, 2013.
The exercise, which was shoddily handled, led to overcrowding of venues and death of not less than 20 applicants in various centres across the country.
In September 2016, a retired director and secretary of the board of the NIS, Tabugn Sylvanus had testified against Moro, telling the court the sum of N45 million was released to conduct the tragic recruitment exercise, out of about N1 billion generated from the sale of forms at N1000 each.
He also revealed that the initial number of expected participants at the Abuja exam venue was 6,800, but increased to over 66,000 due to a last-minute decision.
Moro, however, under the immediate past administration of Goodluck Jonathan in April 2014 took responsibility for the botched exercise.
Meanwhile, in January 2018, the EFCC requested that the court ordered the interim forfeiture of properties linked to Drexel Tech Nig. Ltd, which were purchased with proceeds from the recruitment exercise into the NIS that left some applicants dead.
The EFCC requested “an order stopping the disposal, conveyance, mortgage, lease, sale or alienation or otherwise tampering with the properties/assets’ which are located at No 1, Lahn Crescent, Maitama, Abuja and No. 2, Sigure Close, Off Monrovia Street, Wuse II, Abuja”.
However, S. I. Ameh, SAN, representing Drexel Tech Nigeria Limited, opposed the motion describing it as “overwhelming and prejudicial”.