NIS Recruitment Saga: Judge’s Absence Stalls Trial of Former Minister

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By Alex Enumah

The trial of a former Minister of Interior, Senator Abba Moro, and two others at the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court was yesterday stalled following the absence of the trial judge, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba.

Moro, alongside a former Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mrs. Anastasia Daniel-Nwobia; a former Director in the ministry, Mr. Felix Alayebami and a firm, Drexel Tech Nigeria Ltd were arraigned on May 11, 2016, on an 11-count charge bordering on conspiracy, fraud and money laundering in the botched 2014 Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) recruitment exercise.

They however pleaded not guilty to the charges preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Justice Dimgba, ruling in a no-case submissions by the defendants delivered on June 25, this year, discharged and acquitted Dretex Tech Nigeria Limited from the entire charges.

Drexel Tech was a private information communication technology company used by the Ministry of Interior to carry out the recruitment exercise.

And after the evidence of the 12 prosecution witnesses, the company and the three other defendants filed a no-case submission asking the court to quash the charges against them.

Drexel Tech Nigeria Ltd, through its Counsel, S.I. Ameh, SAN, argued that the EFCC had not made out a prima facie case against it to warrant calling its witnesses in the charges of conspiracy, conversion and validity of the contract and its execution, among others.

Dimgba upheld the no-case submission of the defence, discharged and acquitted the firm in counts 1, 8, 9, and 10.

The judge agreed with the submission of the company that there was no ground to compel it to open its defence.“Being the only counts where it was charged, I hereby discharge and acquit the 4th defendant of these counts, and thus free it from further participation in this amended charge dated 23/01/18,” he held.

The judge also discharged Moro of the criminal charges brought against him by the EFCC.

He held that the anti-corruption agency failed to establish ingredients of fraud that could link the lawmaker with the alleged offence.

The judge however, ordered Moro to open his defense in the public procurement aspect of the charges.
According to Dimgba, Moro, needs to throw more light on the preparations put in place before the ministry embarked on the recruitment.

He subsequently adjourned to October 29 and 30 for the defendant to open his defence.

Although the matter was supposed to come up on Thursday, due to the public holiday, the court did not sit.

Also, at the resumed hearing yesterday, Justice Dimgba was not in court.