Two weeks ago, a private firm, Drexel Tech. Nigeria Limited, conducted a recruitment exercise for job applicants into the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) across several states of the nation including the Federal Capital territory (FCT). The recruitment exercise however, subsequently in stampedes in several states which claimed the lives of at least twenty job seekers.
Outrage greeted the death of those applicants across the country, with millions of Nigerians, from the lowly to some eminent Nigerians in the country, criticising the whole exercise, forcing the President to cancel it.
The storm is still not over though, and is still hanging, while several groups are still calling for the head of those responsible. The Minister of Interior, Comrade Abba Moro took most of the flak over the incident, with some eminent Nigerians and groups calling for his resignation. According to them, the failure of the ministry and NIS to adequately manage the process and safeguard the safety and security of the job seekers was inexcusable.
They said the deaths that resulted from this failure, therefore, were unlawful. If the lives of Nigerians mean anything, the leadership and management teams in the Ministry of the Interior and the NIS must be held to account for these deaths.
According to some prominent Nigerians, which include Alhaji Bashir Othman Tofa, Malam Nasir Ahmed el-Rufa’i, Dr. Jibrin Ibrahim, Malam Abba Kyari, and Alhaji Tajuddeen Fola Adeola among others, signed a petition calling for the sack of Moro and the Comptroller-General of NIS, David Parradang.
The eminent citizens, in the petition, said the tragedy was needless, foreseeable and avoidable. “The effort by the minister responsible for citizenship in Nigeria to blame the victims, rather than take responsibility shows a callous disregard for the lives of Nigerians incompatible with his high ministerial brief. It brings public service into disrepute”, they stated. They called on the Attorney-General of the Federation and the Inspector-General of Police, along with the Director-General of State Security Service (SSS) to launch a joint criminal investigation into the deaths of the job seekers.
Also, a major stakeholder in Nigeria’s unemployment crisis, the Nigerian Labour Congress, (NLC), said the engagement of Drexel is a major employment scam, and a new form of advanced fee fraud.
Speaking on the credibility of the company, Senator Victor Lar said neither Moro nor Parradang should be punished, but the company that handled the recruitment exercise.
“Let us not forget the fact that the whole exercise was conducted by a company. While we call for the sack of the minister and the Comptroller of Immigration, we should also have in mind that the service was not directly involved in the exercise. Therefore, we should vent our anger on the consultant that was responsible for the exercise”, he stated.
Similarly, Senator Barnabas Gemade said “it was unfortunate that people died in the exercise and we know those who handled it. The consultant has failed woefully and should be blacklisted entirely.
However, despite these hue and cries, Drexel has not come out with a position on the issue. Several accusing fingers pointed at the wife of the Senate President, Helen Mark over the tragic exercise, but she had since disassociated herself from the company.
Worried by the mystery surrounding Drexel, our reporter set out to locate the address of the company, which was said to be operating from No.11, Nun Street, off Danube Street, Maitama, Abuja. It subsequently turned out to be a residential address. Security men at the gate said they have not heard of such a name before and asked our reporter if he was sure of the address.
“There is no company here. I have not heard of the name before. Maybe you should still check around to be sure. What do they do in the company? Had it been we know what they do, we will be able to help you”, the security man at the gate counseled.
From the address, our reporter went straight to No. 63, Zone A, Dennis Osadebey Crescent, Apo Legislative Quarters, to locate one of the directors, Mahmood Ahmadu. On reaching the house, which is under construction, the security man said the man does not stay in the country. “The owner of this house stays abroad with his family and only comes in to the country once in a while. He has a company but I am not sure of the name”, the security man said.
According to a Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) document obtained by Peoples Daily and analysed by an Abuja-based legal practitioner, indicates that the share capital of the company is N10,000,000 and only 2, 100, 000 shares have been allotted. It added that the sum is divided in to 2, 600,000 share and 2, 500,000 shares for the two directors; leaving 4, 900,000 un-allotted.
It also revealed that Drexel Tech. Nigeria Limited had not filed its annual returns to the commission since 1994 (twenty years ago). The annual return, which is the company’s audited report, is legal proof that it is still in operation and under the country’s laws.
It is a crime for any operating company not to file its annual returns to CAC. Failure by a limited liability company to file annual returns with CAC is a breach of the Company Act. The filing consists of annual audited accounts. The law prescribes a fine for each year a company is in default.
The company was also reportedly chosen without recourse to tenders, a requirement of the laws of the land for such appointments.
According to legal practitioner, “What is worrisome to me is the fact that the company was registered on the 16th November, 2013 by people who are General Merchants and Traders.
Also, as indicated by the document, the company did not register any annual returns with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
Speaking further, the legal practitioner said any reputable firm must have a Tax Clearance Certificate from the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), based on an audited report of the Company’s account by a Chattered Accounting Firm.
These findings really questions the credibility of the company that handled the recruitment exercise since it has no particular address and one of its top directors does not stay in the country.
The question currently on the lips of many Nigerians is: “Who owns Drexel? Is it the figment of the imagination of some people or the company is being operated from another planet?
Many observers have reiterated it is only Abba Moro and the consultant he engaged for the exercise that can tell Nigerians exactly what happened.
It could be recalled that in 2008, no fewer than 20 people died in various states of the federation during a similar exercise conducted by the Ministry of Interior for the Nigeria Prisons Service, Nigeria Immigration Service and the Nigeria Custom Service. These occurrences indicate a poor attitude towards the issue of job creation and the fate of job seekers by the government. Government must urgently move against this particular agency and others like it, if a reoccurrence of this type of recruitment tragedy is to be avoided.