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Published On: Sun, Mar 23rd, 2014

Abba Moro’s mess

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Minister of Interior, Comrade Abba MoroMonday Column by Emmanuel Yawe | 08024565402

When news broke out that applicants lost their lives at an interview for jobs into the Immigration Services, Comrade Abba Moro, the Minister that supervises the agency reacted instantly.

“The applicants lost their lives due to impatience; they did not follow the laid-down procedures spelt out to them before the exercise”, he told newsmen.

Ironically this accusation (against dead men) of non compliance with procedures came from a man who flouted all laid down procedures in his forceful bid to conduct the ill fated interview. Behold a timeline of the events that led to this monumental tragedy.

It all started on Sept 9th last year when the Ministry of Interior on the instruction of its Minister, Abba Moro planted an advert in the newspapers proclaiming that the Immigration department was recruiting. The recruitment was to cover superintendent and inspectorate cadres.

This was the mother of all irregularities.

First, the Comptroller General of Immigration was not informed, let alone consulted on this exercise. Secondly, the Civil Defence, Fire, Immigration and Prisons Board Act Cap. 12, 2004 confers powers of appointment on the Board. However the same Act equally delegates such powers particularly recruitment into inspectorate cadre to the Immigration Service.

A stunned and embarrassed David Parradang protested in a letter to the Secretary, Civil Defence, Fire, Immigration and Prisons Service Board the same day. He requested that the advertisement be withdrawn to make room for consultation in order to avoid the mistakes of the past.

In these days of information super high way, it took the Board almost two months to respond to this letter. A reply signed by S. D. Tapgun, Director/Secretary of the Board regretted that as a major stakeholder, the Comptroller General was not informed before the publication came out. It also assured him that his department would still handle the enlistment into the inspectorate cadre.

“Be rest assured that useful lessons have been learnt and we shall do our best to ensure that all stakeholders are accorded their due henceforth,” the contrite Board promised.

This promise was made to be broken. The minister was determined to break all the rules guiding recruitments. To ensure his premeditated decision to break the rules without impediment, he signed a secret and suspicious agreement with a company named Drexel. Thus, for the first time in the history of Nigeria, a private company was being hired to recruit for the Immigration – a paramilitary service.

Another irregularity was the decision of the minister to engage the services of Drexel on terms that were known only to him; both the Immigration and the Board knew and still know nothing about the contract which was neither advertised nor tendered for.

Drexel charged each applicant one thousand Naira. It was expected that the company would fund the whole operation from the revenue they generated. But as the date drew nearer, Drexel argued that the terms of agreement in the contract (which remains a secret between Drexel and the minister) did not cover expenditures for the exercise. The minister directed the Immigration – which did not budget for this exercise in its 2014 estimates – to pick the bills!

Without funds and without the necessary logistics in place to support such an exercise, but with the minister insisting it must be carried out, the recruitment of 15th March was a tragedy waiting to happen. On that day it did take place with blood and fire. Almost 20 young Nigerians sent to their early graves by the duo of Drexel and Abba Moro. Maybe that is their own formula of reducing unemployment in Nigeria – kill the unemployed and kill them young. But who is this Drexel?

A search we conducted at the Corporate Affairs Commission during the week shows that the company was registered in 2011 as Drexel Tech Nigeria Ltd with its first line of business as general merchants and traders. There are however many unanswered questions about this company. Its registered office is No 11 Nun Street, off Danube Crescent in Maitama District of Abuja. This is a residential area and the property on 11 Nun Street was infact owned by NSITF until the government decided to sell its residential properties to civil servants occupying same.

At present, the company seems to have no fixed address. A visit at No 11 Nun Street provides no clue that it exists there. We are on the trail of the two registered directors of the company, one in Abuja and the other in Lagos to get their views on the affairs of the company and the tragedy they facilitated and inflicted on Nigeria.

Strangely enough, for a company that was given an assignment of this magnitude, there is no record at the Corporate Affairs Commission to show that it has a history of annual payments of returns since it came into existence. How did a company of such status secure such a sensitive consultancy job as recruitment for Immigration Service?

Goodluck Jonathan was elected President of Nigeria. We all owe him our loyalty; to me this means we must always tell him the truth. When he does the right thing we praise him. When he goes wrong, we criticise him. On the situation in Immigration, I believe he has so far taken the right steps.

At the inauguration of the Police Service Commission last year, he said publicly that officers with criminal records who should have been out of the Immigration Service long ago were presented to him by their powerful godfathers to take over the Service as Comptroller General.

It is common knowledge that Comrade Abba Moro did all he could to prevent the emergence of David Parradang as the CG of immigration. The appointment of this officer is however considered by the men and officers of Service as the greatest thing that has ever happened there for decades. The guy is respected for his competence, professionalism and his deep concern for the welfare of his men. The president will do incalculable damage to his image, the Immigration Service and Nigeria if he allows such a fine officer to be wasted by influence peddlers around him.

The president owes it to himself to keep a good distance from Abba Moro’s mess. This ‘Comrade’ must go.

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