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Nepotism, lopsidedness derailed NIS recruitment exercise – Abba Moro

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Former minister of interior, Senator Patrick Abba Moro, has commenced his defence before Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court, Abuja, over allegations on the 2014 recruitment exercise into the Nigeria Immigration Service under him as minister.

Abba Moro stated in his testimony that the March 17, 2014 recruitment exercise of the Nigeria Immigration Service, (NIS) was marred by controversies, nepotism, job racketeering and lopsidedness, which derailed the exercise even before he was appointed into the ministry.

According to Moro, “The recruitment was marred with controversies, accusations, nepotism, job racketeering and lopsidedness. The controversies had derailed the recruitment exercise even before I became the minister of interior.”

Moro entered his defence on counts two, four, five and 11 out of the 11-count charge preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, [EFCC], after the rest of the charges were dismissed in his “no case submission.”

Testifying as first defence witness (DW1), and led by his counsel, Paul Erokoro, [SAN], Moro said the ministry of interior, sometime in December 2012, received a waiver from the office of the head of service for the recruitment of 4,556 officers into the NIS and that he instructed the agency to take action by, accordingly, recruiting qualified Nigerians.

Moro, who is now a senator representing Benue North-East, said the previous recruitment exercise had been cancelled by him, intent on the interior ministry evolving a cost-effective and modern method of recruitment. This was until a technology company brought a proposal for the use of an e-recruitment platform.

He said the e-recruitment platform was adopted and forwarded to the procurement department and the ministerial tenders board for vetting and approval. Drexel Technological Limited was, thereafter, approved to handle the project for a period of five years and recommendations were forwarded to his office for scrutiny and endorsement.

Moro denied being a member of the ministerial tenders’ board and said he did not influence the contract award. He also denied inviting any company for the bidding exercise.

The former minister wondered why he was standing trial for procurement process when he was not part of his ministry’s procurement department and had no hand in the choice of contractors.

“I am not a member of the procurement department and I could not have influenced anybody and, therefore, did not commit any fraud”, he said.

Moro also told the court that he could not have caused the stampede that claimed the lives of several applicants during the recruitment exercise, claiming that the recruitment process actually started in 2012 before his appointment as minister and was eventually concluded in 2014.

Abba Moro is facing trial, alongside Anastasia Daniel-Nwobia, a former permanent secretary in the interior ministry, F.O. Alayebami, a deputy director, Mahmood Ahmadu, currently at large, and Drexel Technological Limited, a firm involved in the ill-fated recruitment exercise, for money laundering, abuse of office, procurement fraud and fraud against Nigerian applicants to the tune of N675, 675, 000 naira. Justice Dimgba adjourned the matter till February 23, 24 and 25, 2021, for the conclusion of Moro’s cross-examination.

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