By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA—Former Comptroller-General of Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS, Mr. David Paradang, yesterday told the Federal High Court in Abuja that the former Minister of Interior, Mr. Abba Moro, sidelined him in the botched recruitment that led to the death of 20 persons across the country in 2014.
Paradang testified before the court as the star witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, which is prosecuting the erstwhile minister over alleged N676 million job scam.
Those equally on trial over the alleged recruitment fraud are the former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Interior, Mrs. Anastasia Daniel-Nwobia, and a ýDeputy Director in the ministry, Mr. F. O Alayebami.
They were charged alongside Drexel Tech Nigeria Limited, the firm contracted to conduct the ill-fated March 15, 2014, NIS, recruitment.
The anti-graft agency had earlier told the court that ýone of the alleged culprits, Mr. Mahmood Ahmadu, who it said was a director at the firm, was at large.
The defendants are answering to an 11-count charge.
At the resumed sitting yesterday, the former NIS boss, Paradang, told the court that he was shocked when he saw reports in the media that the establishment under him was recruiting.
Paradang was Comptroller General of NIS from June 2013 to August 2015.
Paradang, who was led in evidence by EFCC lawyer, Mr. Aliyu Yusuf, said: “I was surprised about the recruitment exercise because I was not aware of it.”
At the point of giving names of the board members and a memo containing their response concerning the recruitment exercise, the defence team, Mr. Paul Erokoro (SAN), Chief Chris Uche (SAN), and Mr. S. I. Ameh (SAN), objected, contending that the witness was giving hearsay evidence.
It was their contention that though the letter was certified, necessary fees were not paid as prescribed by the Supreme Court.
They argued that Paradang could not give details of what he was told by others who are not witnesses before the court.
However, the prosecuting counsel, Yusuf, urged the court to disregard the objections, which he said could be raised by the defendants in their written addresses.
Meanwhile, trial judge, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, adjourned ruling on the matter till tomorrow.
The judge equally directed the prosecution and the defence team to harmonise and agree on documents to be tendered during the trial, in line with Federal High Court Practice Directions.
Moro was previously granted bail on self-recognition by Justice Anwuli Chikere, who previously handled the trial, even as the other accused persons were ordered to deposit N100 million each.
Justice Anwuli eventually withdrew from the matter, citing personal reasons.
Specifically, EFCC alleged that the defendants defrauded 676,675 Nigerian applicants of N676, 675,000.
Each of the 676,675 applicants were charged N1,000 each for participating in the ill-fated immigration recruitment exercise.