Former Minister of Interior, Abba Moro and three others who are standing trial for an 11-count charge bordering on abuse of procurement process and diversion of public funds including N676 million they illegally collected from immigration job applicants, appeared in court today for hearing on their bail application. The judge however adjourned the bail hearing till tomorrow March 3rd. They have been sent back to Kuje Prison. Continue to see photos from the court hearing today
The Federal Government Wednesday objected to plea for bail by former Interior Minister, Abba Moro and two other persons being tried over the 2014 botched recruitment exercise of the Nigerian Immigration Services (NIM).
The government, acting through the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), urged a Federal High Court in Abuja to ignore claim of ill-health made by Moro, and on which basis he had sought to be granted bail.
Moro, a former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mrs Anastasia M. Daniel Nwobia, F. O. Alaiyegbami and Drexel Tech Nigeria Limited were on Monday, arraigned before the court on an 11-count charge.
They were accused of defrauding 675, 675 graduate applicants of about N675,675,000 having been made to pay N1000 each as processing fees for 5,000 (five thousand) job openings.
The four defendants also were accused of breaching the Public Procurement Act, No. 65 of 2007 in the award of the contract for the organisation of the recruitment test to Drexel Tech Nigeria Ltd.
Although they pleaded not guilty to the charge, Justice Anwuli Chikere ordered the remand of Moro and Alaiyegbami in Kuje prison, Abuja and allowed Mrs. Daniel Nwobia, said to be a nursing mother, to remain on the bail earlier granted her by the EFCC, pending the determination of their bail applications.
Wednesday, parties argued for and against the grant of bail to the defendants, with the EFCC cautioning the court to refuse the bail applications on the ground that the defendants could tamper with the prosecution process and witnesses.
Although Moro claimed, in his bail application, to suffering from acute diabetes and high blood pressure, the EFCC, in its counter –counter affidavit, faulted such claim, arguing that, while in its custody, and throughout investigation of the case, Moro neither complained of ill-health nor was he treated for any ailment.
EFFC also faulted Moro’s pledged to abide by the bail conditions and attend trial, stating that it had to revoke the administrative bail earlier granted him (Moro) “as information received from the investigating team revealed that the applicant would interfere with investigation and prosecution process embarked upon by the respondent.
An EFCC investigator, Isa Joshua, stated in a supporting affidavit, that “investigation conducted revealed that the defendant/applicant conspired with the other defendants to induce the said delivery of the said funds by job applicants, while deliberately neglecting to comply with extant provisions relating to procurement process as the Minister of Interior in relation to the award of contract for the recruitment exercise.
“Investigation also revealed that the defendant/applicant conspired with other defendants to award contract for the provision of online enlistment and recruitment services to Drexel Tech Nigeria Limited without advertising the contract, without needs assessment and procurement plan, and through selective tendering procedure, by inviting four firms without seeking approval by Bureau of Public Procurement and the fact that the company was not responsive to mandatory prequalification.
“The defendant/applicant conspired with other defendants to award contract for the provision of online enlistment and recruitment services to Drexel Tech Nigeria Limited, knowing that the company had no legal capacity to enter into the contract,” Joshua said.
It told the court that Moro would frustrate its effort to apprehend others involved in the alleged crime as they were currently being trailed by its operatives.
Justice Chikere, who ordered Moro and Alaiyegbami to return to prison, will rule on the bail applications today.
Shortly after the court’s proceedings, Moro’s supporters, mostly young men and women, who wore T-shirts, with the ex-Interior Minister’s picture printed on them, sang his praise as he was led to a waiting prison van. The unruly supporters, some of who wept as he Moro was being led away, and prison officials attacked journalists, who were trying to capture Moro’s exit with their cameras.