Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Abuja division of the Federal High Court yesterday ordered former Interior Minister, Mr. Abba Moro, to enter his defence in the charges bordering on the ill-fated recruitment exercise into the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) in 2014.
Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, who delivered judgment in the no-case submission filed by the defendants, however, discharged and acquitted Abba Moro on seven out of the 11 count-criminal charges relating to money laundering and obtaining by false pretence.
EFCC had slammed an 11- count charge bordering on obtaining by false pretence, procurement fraud and money laundering on Moro; permanent secretary of 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.
The defendants are accused of defrauding 676, 675,000 (Six Hundred and Seventy Six Thousand, Six Hundred and Seventy Five) Nigerian applicants of N676,675,000 (Six Hundred and Seventy Six Million, Six Hundred and Seventy Five Thousand Naira).
The prosecution informed the court that the applicants paid N1000 each through an e-payment platform for their online recruitment exercise into the Nigerian Immigration Service.
The court held that the defendants have some explanations to make as it relates to counts 2, 4, 5 and 11 as it relates to breached of the Public Procurement Act, No. 65 of 2007 in the contract awards by not following the necessary procedure laid down by the government. The award of the contract to Drexel Tech Nig Ltd, the EFCC said, had no prior advertisement, no needs assessment and a procurement plan was not carried out before the contract was awarded.
The contract was awarded through selective tendering procedure by invitation of four firms without seeking the approval of the Bureau for Public Procurement, 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, the anti-graft agency said.
Drexel Tech Global Nigeria Limited, the company that provided the online enlistment and recruitment services was discharged and acquitted and will not be facing further trial.
Justice Dimgba held that contrary to the prosecution claim that Drexel Tech Global Nigeria Limited was a registered company with the legal capacity to enter into the said contract.