Absence of Prosecution Witness Stalls Trial of Ex-Interior Minister, Moro  

Abba Moro
By Alex Enumah in Abuja


The absence of the 10th prosecution witness Wednesday stalled the trial of a former Minister of Interior Abba Moro before Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court.

Moro is being tried alongside one-time permanent secretary in the ministry, Anastasia Daniel-Nwobia; a deputy director in the ministry, F. O Alayebami; one Mahmood Ahmadu (at large); and Drexel Tech Nigeria Limited, a firm that was given the recruitment job in the ill-fated  Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) recruitment exercise in 2014.

The defendants are, in the charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/42/2016, accused of defrauding 675, 675 graduate applicants of about N675,675,000 having been made to pay N1,000 each as processing fees for 5,000 job openings.

They are equally 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.

At the resumed trial Wednesday, the prosecution counsel, Mrs Elizabeth Alabi, said though the prosecution was prepared for the trial, it could however not proceed owing to the absence in court of the witness scheduled for the day’s proceedings.

The witness, Isah Joshua (an operative of the EFCC), according to Alabi, was not in court due to the death of his father two days (Tuesday) ago.

“My Lord, the matter is for the continuation of hearing. However, our prepared witness, Isah Joshua, just called that his father died around 8pm yesterday (Tuesday)”, she told the court at the resumed trial Wedneday.

Alabi, who prayed the court for a short adjournment in the circumstance however hinted that the prosecution would soon be closing its case in the matter as it has just two more witnesses to call.

“So far, we have called nine witnesses. This witness was to be our 10th witness. We just have two more to go. He is an investigative officer. He is coming to tender the statement of the defendants,” she said.

The court also could not hear a motion by Mrs. Daniel-Nwobia for the release of her international passport to enable her travel to the United Kingdom on medical grounds.

Mrs. Alabi said she was not aware of the motion when Mrs. Daniel-Nwobia’s lawyer, James Odiba, informed the court about the motion and his willingness to move it.

However, Justice Dimgba, who noted that the motion was not properly served on the EFCC, stated that the motion was served on the commission’s Asset Recovery Management Directorate, instead of the Legal Department.

On his part, A. T. Kehinde (SAN), counsel to Moro, said he was served with the motion, but noted that the appropriate office to serve the prosecution should be at its Legal Department.

He suggested that since a lawyer was in court for the prosecution, the motion should be served on the lawyer and a date taken for its hearing.

Other lawyers in the case agreed with the suggestion following which the judge adjourned to December 4 for continuation of trial.