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Published On: Fri, Mar 28th, 2014

Recruitment tragedy: I’m responsible – Moro

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Minister of Interior, Comrade Abba Moro
  • We were sidelined, Parradang, Immigration Board insist

By Ikechukwu Okaforadi

Embattled Minister of Interior, Abba Moro, yesterday owned up to the negligence that led to the death of at least 16 applicants at the nationwide Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) recruitment exercise which took place on the 15th of this month.

“With regards to the ill-fated day, I cannot abdicate responsibility; the buck in the entire exercise ends on my table”, Moro said when he appeared before the Atiku Abubakar Bagudu led Senate Committee on Interior to tell his own side of the story.

He however said the tragedy was as a result of their efforts to ensure transparency, openness and excellence this time around in the recruitment exercise of the agency, especially given the series of scandals which had previously tainted the process.

Moro, who admitted that there was no provision in both 2012 and 2013 budgets of the ministry for the recruitment, regretted that at the time the Civil Defence, Fire Service, Immigration and Prisons Board (CDFIPB) discovered that the consultant, Drexel Technology Nigeria Limited, opted out of funding the exercise, it was already too late to terminate the process.

He also disclosed that at the point where the decision to contract Drexel from amongst the four companies that bided for the recruitment exercise was taken, members of the Board were carried along.

The minister admitted that he did not have control of the funds which the consultant generated from the process, even as he said he did not hold subsequent meetings with the Board to evaluate the process.

While pointing out that the consultant was supposed to foot the bill for the process, Moro admitted that part of the agreement with the firm was that the recruitment expenditures should not be the ministry’s liability.

He also said there were suggestions by Board members to have the date shifted and staggered for peaceful and convenient exercise, but he objected to such for some obvious dilemma.

“There were many options before us, but we decided to invite everybody to avoid the dilemma we had at hand then”, Moro said.

Speaking earlier, the Secretary of the CDFIPB, Sylvester Tapgun, said when the Board discovered that the exercise was going to be difficult, it advised the minister to stagger the process, but he refused and carried on.

He also said the Board, after consultations on the expenditures involved, made a request for N201 million from the consultant to enable them conduct the screening successfully, and the minister refused, but later released N45 million after pressure was put on him.

Tapgun said the money generated from the recruitment fee paid by the applicants was neither with the Board nor with the ministry, adding that the right to recruit officers on Grade Level 8 and above resides with the Board, while those below reside with the NIS, but that in this case, the minister allowed the consultant to handle all of them together.

The secretary disclosed that the CDFIPB had no control over the portal and its management, saying it relied on the consultant to know the number of the applicants.

Meanwhile, the Comptroller General of NIS, David Parradang, said he only saw the notice of the advert for the recruitment in a newspaper. He said he was neither consulted, nor any meeting of the Board convened to take any decision about the recruitment.

“On this note, I placed a call to the former secretary that I was not aware of any board meeting where the decision to conduct the exercise was taken, he pleaded with me that he was under pressure, that I should take it. But I told him this is an official matter, and that I will write him. I wrote to him, but I did not get any response until he left the service”, Parradang said.

The Immigration boss also said he protested the recruitment modalities by suggesting staggering of the exercise, the use of state of origin, and the N1000 collections from the applicants, but the minister did not listen to him.

Meanwhile, he suggested that the chairman of the CDFIPB should come from outside the ministry, NIS and the board, adding that forms for the exercise should be picked from the local government areas of the applicants, state of origin, staggering of the exercise, among other recommendations.

Meanwhile, the Secretary and Legal Adviser of the Drexel Technology Nigeria Limited, Theodore Maiyaki, said they realised the sum of N710 million from 710,100 applicants.

He said there was no agreement for the company to fund the screening exercise, adding that it incurred unexpected expenses due to crashing of its site over influx of applicants.

The probe ended yesterday and the committee is expected to make its recommendations to the Senate next week.

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