FINALLY, former Interior Minister, Abba Moro, is answering to charges of abuse of procurement process and diversion of public funds preferred against him and four others by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The EFCC had slammed an 11-count charge against them for allegedly collecting N676.6million from 676,675 job seekers in the fatal Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) recruitment exercise in 2014, where many young graduates were injured and scores of lives lost in stampedes thereby throwing families into perpetual anguish.
The EFCC disclosed, in the charges read in court, that the money realised from this horrendously packaged recruitment exercise was spent in buying choice real estate property, while the firm contracted for the job, Drexel Tech Nigeria Limited and one Mahmood Ahmadu, converted N101, 200,000 to US dollars to personal use.
The accused allegedly contravened the Public Procurement Act, No. 65 of 2007 in that the contract awards did not follow the due process.
Many heaved sighs of relief that, at last, the proverbial long arm of the law is catching up on a case that was almost swept under the carpet.
In 2014, about 6.5million graduates applied for 5,000 immigration jobs, but the conduct of the test in stadiums led to the death of several applicants while thousands more were injured during stampedes in Abuja, Port Harcourt, Minna. The applicants had paid a non-refundable application fee of N1, 000 each.
It is gladdening that, at last, those behind this contrived tragic exercise are having their days before the law after two years of perceived attempts to cover up the national outrage.
This was one of the many disappointing events that took place during the Dr Goodluck Jonathan presidency which got many Nigerians angry at government’s unwillingness to visit the full weight of the law on those behind the avoidable death and disablement of job seekers.
The trial of Abba Moro and his cohorts will restore the faith of Nigerians in the ability of the state to hold occupants of top government posts to account for their acts of omission and commission, especially when injuries and loss of lives occur.
It may be cold comfort, but at least, the revealing of the truth behind the tragedy and the dispensation of due justice will serve as some consolation for the bereaved families.
It will also act as a deterrent to public office holders who cook up all sorts of schemes and collude with external collaborators to extort money from unsuspecting members of the public in the guise of offering them jobs.
Those who feel secured in the false assurance of “godfathers” will also realise that the day of reckoning can only be postponed, not averted.