A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja Monday ordered that immediate past Minister of the Interior, Abba Moro, be remanded in prison custody for allegedly defrauding 676,675 Nigerian job applicants of N676,675,000.
Justice Anwuli Chikere gave the order after Moro pleaded not guilty to an 11-count criminal charge preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The charge is in connection to the fatal 2014 recruitment exercise into the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) in which at least 20 applicants lost their lives.
Moro was the supervising minister in charge of the Nigerian Prisons Service from July 2011 to May 2015 while he called the shots at the Interior Ministry.
He will be spending time with his former charges at Kuje Prison at least until Wednesday, March 2 when the court will hear arguments for and against his bail.
Remanded in prison along with Moro is a deputy director in the ministry, Mr. F. O Alayebami.
Justice Chikere however granted administrative bail to a third accused Anastasia Daniel-Nwobia, who was permanent secretary in the ministry when the alleged fraud was committed.
Mrs. Daniel-Nwobia, a nursing mother, whom her lawyer, Chief Chris Uche, SAN, described as a “victim of circumstances” was allowed to go home to take care of her baby in continuation of the administrative bail granted her by the EFCC on February 22.
The EFCC told the court that one of the accused persons, Mahmood Ahmadu, who was a director at Drexel Tech Nigeria Ltd, the firm allegedly used to perpetuate the immigration recruitment exercise, is currently at large.
According to the anti-graft agency, the accused persons 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 award of the contract to Drexel Tech Nig Ltd had no prior advertisement, no needs assessment, and a procurement plan was not carried out before award of the contract,” read a statement issued by EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren last week.
“The contract was awarded through selective tendering procedure by invitation of four firms without seeking approval of 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.
“Drexel Tech Global Nigeria Limited, the company that provided the online enlistment and recruitment services, is said to be unregistered and had no legal capacity to enter into the said contract.
“There is also said to be no budgetary provision for the exercise in the 2014 federal capital budget, hence the applicants were made to bear the responsibility of funding the project without approval of the board, contrary to section 22(5) of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Act 2000.
“One of the accused, Mahmood Ahmadu (who is at large) in connivance with Drexel Tech Nigeria Ltd, lavished the total of N423, 800,000.00; part of the N676,675,000, gotten from the applicants on the following: the sum N202, 500, 000, in purchase of a property in a choice area of the federal capital territory; N120, 100,000, used in upgrading a property in Abuja, while the total of N101, 200, 000 was converted to United states dollars for personal use.”