By Alex Enumah
A former Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, David Paradang has revealed that there was no budgetary provision for the 2014 Immigration recruitment exercise that led to the death of over a dozen job seekers in Nigeria.
Parading made the revelation in a testimony as witness of the Federal Government in the ongoing trial of former Minister of Interior, Abba Moro who is being tried over the 2014 tragic Nigeria Immigration recruitment exercise.
Moro was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) alongside the former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Interior Anastasia Nwobia, F.O. Alayebami and Drexel Tech Nigeria Limited while Mahmood Ahmadu was said to be at large.
They are accused of defrauding 676, 675 applicants of the sum of N676, 675, 000, being the aggregate of N1000 paid by each applicant to Drexel ahead of the recruitment.
They pleaded not guilty to the charges.
At the resumed hearing before Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, the Ex-Immigration boss stated that as at the time of the exercise, the service was not ready financially.
Parading who was led in evidence Aliyu Yusuf noted that, a day to the recruitment, he received a letter from the board of the immigration service informing him that the exercise would be carried out.
He said upon receipt of the letter, he inquired from the board on the level of preparation and was told that the sum of N300, 000 had been sent to the zonal commands for the exercise.
According to him, the amount was not enough to hire a venue let alone get meet other logistics needs for the exercise.
“The N300 was inadequate as it could not even rent ambulances and pay stipend for the officers”, he said.
While speaking on the tragic event of that day, Paradang told the court that he was away in Jos, Plateau with the Abba Moro when the news of the stampeded filtered in.
He said: On the day of the exercise, most states were calling me that they were overwhelmed with the number of persons that turned up for the exercise. I advised them to seek help from sister security agencies and keep me informed, adding that, “I immediately sought permission from the minister to return to Abuja in order to coordinate”.
He confirmed to the court that 15 people died while 165 were injured.
The former Immigration boss noted that to assuage the feelings of the families of the job seekers that lost their lives, former President Goodluck Jonathan ordered that the families should be compensated by offering three persons from each of the deceased families’ job in the NIS.
He informed the court that the president also set up a presidential committee to conduct a fresh recruitment exercise which was conducted and letter of employment issued to successful applicants.
The witness however said that the Ministry of Interior later withdrew these letters on the grounds that the appointments were illegal.
When the judge sought to know whether the minister overruled the president on this matter, Paradang said” it appears so”.
Justice, Dimgba however adjourned the case to July 1 and 5 for cross examination of the witness.
Moro and the other accused persons were arraigned on 11 counts charge bordering on obtaining money by false pretences (aka 419), procurement fraud and money laundering.
The accused persons were alleged to have contravened the Public Procurement Act No. 65 of 2007 in the contract awards by not following the necessary procedure laid down by the government.
According to the EFCC, the award of the contract to Drexel Tech Nigeria Limited had no prior advertisement, no needs assessment and a procurement plan was not carried out before the award of the contract.
The anti-graft agency added that there was no budgetary provision for the exercise in the 2014 federal budget; hence, the applicants were made to bear the responsibility of funding the project without the approval of the board, contrary to Section 22(5) of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission Act, 2000.
The conduct of the recruitment test in March, 2014, led to the death of no fewer than 20 applicants while many others were injured in stampedes in Abuja, Port Harcourt and Minna.
ECOWAS Heads Towards Single Currency, Biometric ID Card by 2020
Senator Iroegbu in Abuja
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is said to be well on target of establishing single currency and the adoption of a single biometric identity card, among others by year 2020.
The Ambassador of Liberia to Nigeria, and Permanent Representative of Liberia to ECOWAS, Prof. Al-Hassan Conteh, disclosed this yesterday in Abuja on the Occasion of Celebration of the 41st Anniversary of organisation.
Conteh said that ECOWAS’ record over the last four decades since its founding in meeting its goal of economic development and regional integration was worth celebrating.
He noted that since they “launched Vision 2020 to transform ECOWAS from ECOWAS of States to ECOWAS of peoples, our Community has accomplished meaningful targets and objectives in its strategic planning”.
Among these, he said, was the adoption of a common passport for the free movement of Community citizens in Member States.
According to him, progress had been made in trade liberalisation, Customs Union, favourable industrial policy, mines development, agriculture and environment, infrastructure-transport, telecommunications and energy.
“Considerable progress had also been made in ECOWAS’ plan to establish a single currency by 2020, and the adoption of a single biometric identity card,” he stated.
Conteh stressed that the organisation now had in place a coordinated capacity for organising an efficient regional response against epidemiological challenges, including the Ebola Virus Disease.
He said: “We have recently witnessed democratic elections in Member States, including Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, Guinea and Burkina Faso, Niger and Benin.
“ECOWAS’ mediation made a big difference in resolving civil wars in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Cote d’Ivoire. And more recently the Community’s role was commendable in the resolution of crises in Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau, and Mali.”
The Ambassador remarked that as the ECOWAS move ahead with the implementation of Vision 2020, to create “a borderless, peaceful, prosperous and cohesive region, built on governance and where people have the capacity to access and harness its enormous resources through the creation of opportunities for sustainable development and environmental preservation,” the Permanent Representatives of Member States stand ready to play their part in moving our Community’s Agenda forward.
Conteh express gratitude to the “host, the Federal Republic of Nigeria for providing the enabling environment that has facilitated the work of the Commission, the Community Court of Justice and the ECOWAS Parliament”.
He also lauded the recent announcement of President Muhammadu Buhari, that his administration would provide full support to ECOWAS is most welcome.
“In the same vein, we thank ECOWAS’ development partners for supporting ECOWAS to meet its development objectives, including civil society development, gender equality, infrastructure development, open borders and early warning for conflict prevention,” he said.
Conteh however called for good working with the President of ECOWAS Commission and his staff, and the Heads of all Organisation’s institutions to ensure that the Community’s record remains elevated as the best and most effective Regional Economic Community in Africa that works for the welfare of its Community citizens.