8 years after NIS recruitment tragedy, court declares Abba Moro innocent

A federal high court in Abuja has discharged and acquitted Abba Moro, former interior minister, of fraud charges.

The Economic and Financial Crimes (EFCC) had instituted a suit against Moro, Anastasia Daniel-Nwobia, a former permanent secretary in the ministry, and F O Alayebami, a deputy director in the ministry, over alleged N676 million recruitment fraud.

The agency also sued Drexel Tech Nigeria Limited, the firm that handled the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) recruitment exercise of 2014 in which some job seekers were killed during a stampede.

Delivering judgment on Thursday, Nnamdi Dimgba, the presiding judge, held that the EFCC failed to establish the allegation of procurement fraud against the defendants.

The judge dismissed the allegation of abuse of office against Moro over inadequate arrangement and provision of safety measures for the exercise — after 667, 000 applicants paid N1, 000 each.

He said the NIS CG testified that there was inadequate funding for the exercise, while also failing to directly take charge of the exercise.

“I believe some flak must be reserved for the PW1 (David Paradang), who was the comptroller-general of the Nigeria Immigration Service,” he said.

Dimgba held that Drexel’s proposal to conduct an e-recruitment was in national security interest due to allegations of nepotism and job racketeering in the previous exercises.

He said the prosecution failed to show that the failure to advertise the contract gave undue advantage to the company.

However, the judge convicted Nwobia on one of the counts but adjourned sentencing to April 27 in accordance with the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.

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