There are documents that indict embattled Minister of Interior, Abba Moro, over the failed recruitment exercise into the Nigeria Immigration Service
It was a N700 million deal that went awry and left a deluge of grief, anger and regret. The botched 2014 recruitment exercise by the Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS, was designed with a singular mindset: to enrich those who call the shots at the Ministry of Interior and their cronies, at the expense of desperate unemployed Nigerian youths.
The recruitment exercise, described by many as an official scam, left about 20 Nigerians dead and many others seriously injured.
Initial plans for the bungled exercise were hatched on Thursday, 20 December 2012, when the Minister of Interior, Abba Moro, signed a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, with a Makurdi-based private company, Rosebonny Technologies Ltd., in conjunction with Ecobank plc. The company was to develop and deploy an online platform for applications into all paramilitary services under the Ministry.
About two months after the Minister signed the MOU with the company, Rosebonny Technologies submitted an outline business case for the project and proposed N1,000 fee per applicant for the recruitment exercise into all the paramilitary organisations under the supervision of the Ministry.
In the business outline, the company proposed that 25 per cent of the N1,000 application access code to be paid by each applicant would go the Ministry of Interior while the company would rake in 70 per cent of the access fee. The outstanding 5 per cent would be paid to Ecobank plc.
Rosebonny was also to bear the responsibility of defraying and/or paying the entire code vendors’ commission from its share of 70 per cent. This project was mooted under the unsolicited business format indicating that the private company approached the Ministry on its own without being invited or solicited to design the project.
This also seemed to connote that no other company was invited to demonstrate their ability to design such project with a view to having an alternative as to cost of the project or formula for sharing expected revenue.
Sources said things, however, went awry when the Minister and the company fell out over irreconcilable differences, stemming from the proposed sharing formula. The Ministry thereafter placed an advert in a national daily on Tuesday, 9 September 2013, calling for applications for e-recruitment into NIS. “Applications are hereby invited from suitably qualified persons for full-time appointment to the following positions in the Nigeria Immigration Service,” the advert said, dividing the positions into categories.
The advert also stipulated that candidates must not be suffering from any mental or physical disability, and must be free from any form of financial embarrassment as well as be of good character. They must not have been found guilty of any criminal offence in the past.
Another company, Drexel Technical Global Nigeria Ltd., was said to have thereafter been single-handedly engaged by the Ministry for the project, without any disclosure on the sharing formula.
The Board of the Immigration Service, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Prisons and the Fire Service, which indicted Comrade Abba Moro over the botched recruitment exercise claimed it was sidelined in the entire exercise.
The Board members, led by Mr. S.D. Tapgun, alongside heads of agencies under the Ministry of Interior who appeared before the Public Accounts Committee of the House of Representatives last Wednesday, told the lawmakers that there was no Board approval for the failed exercise.
Rosebonny Technologies thereafter dragged the Ministry before a Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja, seeking to stop the ministry from going on with the project and urged the court to direct the Ministry to comply with the MoU it signed with it.
The suit was however withdrawn, following an arranged settlement between the Minister and Rosebonny Technologies, and the matter was thereafter struck out by the court presided over by Justice Gabriel Kolawole.
While many have pointed accusing fingers at the Minister of Interior, Abba Moro, and the Comptroller-General of the NIS, David Parradang, and even demanded their sack from office, documents obtained show that the buck stopped at Moro’s table as he failed to listen to warning from the NIS boss.
The correspondences also show that the Immigration Service, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Prisons and Fire Service Board under the Ministry also failed to heed warning from Paradang, who resumed work in September last year.
On 9 September, the same day the recruitment adverts were published, the NIS boss sent an angry letter to S. D. Tapgun, the Secretary, Civil Defence, Fire, Immigration and Prisons Service Board, CDFIPB.
He asked the Board if the powers delegated to the Service to conduct recruitment of junior cadre personnel into the NIS had been withdrawn. But the Board replied him on 29 October, dismissing his fears. In the letter, signed by the Director/Secretary, S.D. Tapgun, the Board said: “The Board regrets that as a major stakeholder, you were not consulted prior to the publication. Be rest assured that useful lessons have been learnt and we shall do our very best to ensure that all stakeholders are accorded their due henceforth.”
Parradang also warned that as a paramilitary agency, it was not right for recruitment of junior officers to be usurped by a consultant. But these issues went unheeded and while defending the 2014 Budget, Abba Moro, the Minister of Interior, announced that the recruitment exercise would hold on 15 March.
According to documents obtained by this medium, the working committee gave the Ministry a budget of N212 million to stage the exercise but was told that the NIS should be approached. But there was no budget for that purpose at the NIS. The Immigration Service demanded that Drexel Nigeria Ltd. fund the exercise.
But the company declined, claiming that its contract with the Ministry did not include the job test.
It was learnt that on 14 March, a day to the exercise, the management of the Abuja stadium had demanded for N3.5 million but there was no money left. The N45 million from Drexel had been committed.
The next day, with this shambolic preparation, about 20 job seekers died from stampedes.