The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, yesterday, remanded erstwhile Minister of Interior, Mr. Abba Moro, and a former Deputy Director in the ministry, Mr. F. O Alayebami, in prison custody over their alleged complicity in a N676 million job scam.
Trial Justice Anwuli Chikere remanded the duo in Kuje Prison shortly after the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, arraigned them on an 11-count criminal charge bordering on procurement fraud, obtaining by false pretence and money laundering.
They were docked alongside Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Interior when the alleged fraud was committed, Mrs. Anastasia Daniel-Nwobia.
Though Justice Chikere ordered that both Moro and Alayebami should remain in prison custody until tomorrow (Wednesday) when their bail applications would be considered, she, however, granted administrative bail to the 2nd defendant, Mrs. Daniel-Nwobia.
Mrs. Daniel-Nwobia who is nursing a baby, had through her lawyer, Chief Chris Uche, SAN, pleaded the court to allow her to go home to take care of her little baby.
Uche, SAN, drew the attention of the court to the fact that his client was earlier released on bail by the EFCC.
“We urge my lord to allow the 2nd defendant to continue to enjoy the administrative bail that was earlier granted to her by the prosecution, especially in view of the fact that she is merely a victim of circumstance so far as this case is concerned.
"The records are there to show that though she was a Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, she had already left office before the said recruitment exercise took place,” Uche, SAN, pleaded.
While confirming that the 2nd defendant had been on administrative bail, EFCC through its lawyer, Mr. Aliyu Yusuf, said it would leave the issue to the discretion of the court.
However, the prosecutor stressed that part of the conditions upon which Mrs. Daniel-Nwobia was granted bail by the Commission included that she produced a Director that stood surety for her, as well as agreed to be reporting at its headquarters everyday to sign-in.
Both counsel to the former Minister, Mr. Banabas Onamusi and that of the 3rd accused person, Mr. Michael Adeyemi told the court that they have filed separate motions requesting that their clients be released on bail pending hearing and the determination of the charge against them.
Earlier, the EFCC told the court that one of the alleged culprits, Mr. Mahmood Ahmadu, who it said was a Director at Drexel Tech Nigeria Ltd, a firm allegedly used to perpetuate the botched March 15, 2014, immigration recruitment that killed no fewer than 20 job seekers across the country, was currently at large.
It, however, charged the firm, Drexel Tech Nigeria Ltd, as the 4th defendant in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CR/42/2016.
Specifically, the anti-graft agency alleged that the defendants defrauded 676,675 Nigerian applicants of N676, 675,000 (Six Hundred and Seventy Six Million, Six Hundred and Seventy Five Thousand Naira).
Each of the 676,675 applicants were charged N1, 000 each for participating in the ill-fated Immigration recruitment exercise.
Besides, the defendants were alleged to have 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 bidded for the contract.
It said the contract was awarded through selective tendering procedure by invitation of 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.
Meantime, the defendants, yesterday, pleaded not guilty to the charges.