…as court adjourns Moro’s trial till Nov 7

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri

ABUJA – Trial of a former Minister of Interior, Mr. Abba Moro, resumed before the Federal High Court in Abuja yesterday, with a prosecution witness, Mr. Augustine Ugorji, revealing how over N676million that was realised from the 2014 National Immigration Service, NIS, job recruitment exercise that led to the death of no fewer than 20 persons across the country, was shared.

Abba Moro

Each of the applicants that participated in the ill-fated NIS job recruitment exercise paid N1000 to procure an online registration form.

Specifically, EFCC in the charhe before the court, alleged that the former Minister, Moro, connived with two other government officials and defrauded 676,675 Nigerian applicants of N676, 675,000 (Six Hundred and Seventy Six Million, Six Hundred and Seventy Five Thousand Naira

Other defendants on trial over the alleged job fraud are the former Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Interior, Mrs. Anastasia Daniel-Nwobia and a ‎Deputy Director in the Ministry, Mr. F. O Alayebami.

They were charged alongside the firm that was contracted to conduct the botched March 15, 2014, NIS, recruitment exercise, Drexel Tech Nigeria Ltd.

At the resumed hearing on Wednesday, Mr. Ugorji who is a former Head of Finance of Payforme Services Nigeria Limited, narrated how his firm was engaged by the 4th defendant, Drexel Tech Nigeria Ltd, to provide online platform for the collection of application fees from the job seekers

Ugorji who testfied as the 5th prosecution witness, PW-5, said their firm, Payforme, an e-commerce licenced by the Central Bank of Nigeria, accepted the offer after a sharing formular was agreed upon.

The witness told the court that Parforme on its part engaged different banks to enable it collect the N1000 recruitment fee from NIS job seekers across the federation.

He listed the banks that were involved in the project as Union Bank Plc, United Bank of Africa, Diamond Bank, Zenith Bank, Sterling Bank, Ecobank, and Enterprise Bank, adding that Interswitch was also engaged to provide card as means of payment by interested applicants.

According to the witness, under the sharing arrangment, Payforme, got N150 out of the N1,000 that was paid by each applicant, while N70 went to the receiving bank.

The PW-5 who told the court that he worked for the firm from 2010 to 2016, said, “The agreement between Drexel and Ministry of Interior was for each applicant to pay N1,000 and Drexel agreed to pay Payforme N150 from the N1,000.

“From the N150, Payforme was paid N80 and N70 to the banks. The balance of N850 went to Drexel.

“The Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System where banks do their clearing, was paid by Payforme in line with an agreement. We had 675,675 that made payment through our platform.”

The witness further gave breakdown of how each of the recieving banks made remittances after deducting their N70 commission from the N1000.

He gave details of the remittances as: “Zenith Bank-N22,425,396; Sterling Bank- N38,013,420; UBA- N190,187,416; Diamond Bank-N114,616,260; Union Bank-N133,862,010; Fidelity Bank- N58,175, 617; Enterprise Bank- N12, 527,100 and Ecobank -N48,456,817.”

The witness told the court that on its part, Interswitch, realised N10,879,115 from the applicants who paid through cards.

He said that at the end of the registration exercise, a total of N574,327,500 was remitted to the 4th defendant, Drexel, through Keystone Bank.

Equally on the witness box yesterday as the PW-6 was an employee of Keystone Bank, Mrs. Bilikisu Mohammed.

Among those that have testified in the matter included the former Comptroller General of the NIS, Mr. David Shikfu Paradang, who told the court that the ex-Minister sidelined him in the recruitment exercise.

Paradang told the court that he was shocked when he saw reports in the media that the establishment under him was recruiting.

He was the Comptroller General of the NIS from June 2013 to August 2015, a period in which the botched recruitment exercise was conducted.

Paradang who testified before the court as the star witness, PW-1, of the EFCC, said: “My lord I was surprised about the recruitment exercise because I was not aware of it”.

Meanwhile, trial Justice Nnamdi Dimgba has adjourned further hearing on the matter till November 7 and 8.

EFCC alleged that the defendants flouted 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.

‎EFCC said its investigations revealed that the firm, which it said was not validly registered to operate in Nigeria, never bided for the contract.

It said the contract was awarded through selective tendering procedure by invitation of 4 (Four) firms without seeking the approval of the Bureau for Public Procurement, contrary to sections 40, 42 and 43 of the Public Procurement Act, No. 65 of 2007 and punishable under section 58 of the same Act.

The anti-graft agency earlier told the court that ‎one of the alleged culprits, Mr. Mahmood Ahmadu, who it said was a Director at the firm, was at large.

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