Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Thursday, June 25, 2020, ruled that Abba Moro the former minister of Interior, and four other defendants have case to answer, in a case against them by the EFCC relating to the 2014 Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) Recruitment in which applicants died.
This was contained in a publication by the Anti-Graft Agency on Thursday.
Moro was charged alongside Anastasia Daniel-Nwobia, a former secretary in the ministry, Mahmood Ahmadu (at large), F. O. Alayebami and Drexel Tech Nigeria Limited, a firm involved in the ill-fated recruitment exercise.
It was a horrific sight on 15 March 2014 when many people died in a stampede, as over 125,000 applicants in Abuja and Lagos alone were chasing 4,500 jobs with many more applicants present at the remaining 35 states of the federation.
Deaths were reported across several states in the country; Federal Capital Territory, Rivers Niger State among others.
At the Liberation Stadium, Port Harcourt venue where four applicants reportedly died, no fewer than 23,000 sat for the test while the stadium capacity was 16,000 according to Vanguard report on 16 March 2014.
Moro, the former minister is facing trial for money laundering, abuse of office, procurement fraud and fraud against Nigerian applicants to the tune of N675,675,000 (Six Hundred and Seventy five Million, Six Hundred and Seventy five Thousand Naira only).
Justice Dimgba during his ruling on the “No case” submission, filed by former Minister of Interior, Abba Moro and four others upheld counts two, four, five and 11 in the 11- count charges preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, ordering them to reopen their defence on those counts.
The defendants were discharged by the judge, on counts one, three, six, seven, eight, nine and ten respectively.
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In his ruling he said that count eight was as a result of “misdescription,” noting that the fourth defendant, Drexel Tech Nigeria Limited performed its part of the contract according to the publication.
EFCC had alleged that the contract was awarded to the company through selective tendering procedure, without seeking the approval of the Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP), contrary to sections 40, 42 and 43 of the Public Procurement Act, No. 65 of 2007 and punishable under section 58 of the same act.
According to the publication by the EFCC, “the judge noted that applicants died in the course of the Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS recruitment exercise of March 15, 2014 and as such the defendants must answer for the improper conduct of the exercise.
The trial was adjourned to October 29 and 30 for the defendants to enter their defence.
EFCC’s counsel, Aliyu Yusuf, while reacting to the ruling, said the Commission will appeal the ruling on some of the count charges on which the defendants were acquitted. He also clarified that the defendants have not been discharged and acquitted by the court
Fifteen applicants died in the recruitment exercise with scores sustaining injures due to the ministry’s shoddy preparations.