NIS recruitment scam: Witness absolves perm sec, director of complicity

A former Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), David Paradang, on Thursday, absolved both former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Interior, Mrs Anastasia Nwobia and a Deputy Director in the same Ministry, Mr F.O. Alayabami, of playing any role in the botched Immigration job exercise that claimed several lives.

The former NIS boss, who is a prosecution witness (PW1) in the suit filed by the Federal Government against the former Minister of Interior, Abba Moro and four others, told a Federal High Court in Abuja, under cross-examination that both Mrs Nwobia and Mr Alayabami, neither attended meetings nor had their names or signature in the recruitment contract.

Responding to questions put across to him by Chief Chris Uche (SAN) and Frank Ikpe, representing the second and third defendants, respectively, the witness also admitted that the second defendant (Nwobia) was posted out of the Ministry about three months before the commencement of the recruitment exercise.

When asked by Uche specifically that the Permanent Secretary (second defendant) was transferred to a different Ministry about three months before the incident, the witness replied that, “Now I know. If she left in July, I agree that she had left the Ministry before the implementation began.”

“In your statement, you mentioned the issue of the contract the Board had with Drexel Tech Nigeria Limited concerning the recruitment. Have you ever seen a copy of the contract,” Uche asked.

Admitting that he saw the copy of the contract, Paradang, however, told the court that he did not see the names and signatures of the second and the third defendants.

Also answering questions from Ikpe as to whether he knew the third defendant and his position in the Ministry, the witness answered that he knew him as the deputy director in procurement department and also admitted that he never had any dealings with the deputy director in respect of the recruitment exercise.

When it was time for the counsel to the fourth defendant, Drexel Tech Nigeria Limited, Sunday Ameh, to conduct his cross examination, he told the court that he needed time to go through his questions.

According to him, the questions were many and considering that the matter was adjourned since July, events would have overtaken some of the questions.

In that circumstance, the prosecution counsel, Yusuf Aliyu, asked the court for an adjournment, even though he earlier informed the court that he had about 21 witnesses.

Without any objection, the trial Judge, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, adjourned the matter till Friday (today), for continuation of trial.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has slammed 11-count charge on the former Interior minister and four others for allegedly collecting N676.6 million from 676,675 job seekers in the fatal Nigerian Immigration Service recruitment exercise in 2014.

According to the charge, Moro, a permanent secretary in the ministry at the time, Anastasia Daniel-Nwobia, a deputy director in the ministry, F. O. Alayebami, one Mahmood Ahmadu (at large), and the contracting firm given the recruitment job, Drexel Tech Nigeria Ltd, are being accused of defrauding 676, 675,000 Nigerian applicants of N676,675,000.

The anti-graft agency said N202, 500,000 of the amount was spent on buying No. 1, Lahn Crescent, Maitama, Abuja while N120, 100,000 was used to upgrade No 2, Sigure Close, Off Monrovia Street, Wuse II, Abuja.

The commission said the recruitment firm, Drexel Tech Nigeria Limited and Mahmood Ahmadu converted N101, 200,000 to US dollars for personal use.

The accused persons are also alleged to have contravened the Public Procurement Act, No 65 of 2007 in the contract awards by not following the necessary procedure laid down by the government.

The charges are: “That you Abba Moro, Anastasia Daniel-Nwobia, F.O Alayebami, Mahmood Ahmadu (at large) and Drexel Tech Nigeria Ltd, on or about March 17, 2013, at Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, with intent to defraud, conspired to induce a total number of 676,675 Nigerian job applicants seeking employment with Nigerian Immigration Service to deliver property to wit: cumulative sum of N676,675,000 which sum represents the sum of N1,000 per applicant under the false pretence that the money represents payment for their online recruitment exercise into Nigerian Immigration Service and which pretence you knew was false, contrary to Section 8 and 1(1) (b) and punishable under Section 1(3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, No. 14 of 2006.