A Federal High Court in Abuja has remanded a former Minister of Interior, Mr. Abba Moro, and a deputy director in the ministry, F. O Alayebami, in prison pending the hearing of their bail applications scheduled for Wednesday.
Justice Anwuli Chikere on Monday ordered their remand in prison shortly after they were arraigned on11 counts of N675m fraud bordering on the botched March 15, 2014 National Immigration Services recruitment exercise.
But the judge allowed one of the accused persons, Mrs. Anastasia Daniel-Nwobia, who is a former Permanent Secretary in the ministry, to continue enjoying the administrative bail granted her by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on February 22.
The EFCC on Monday arraigned Moro, Daniel-Nwobia and Alayebami along with the firm contracted to execute the recruitment exercise, Drexel Tech Nigeria Ltd.
The accused persons who were represented by separate lawyers on Monday, pleaded not guilty to the 11 counts, when the charges were read to them.
But the company was not represented by anybody and a not-guilty plea was recorded for it.
The prosecution accused the defendants of offences bordering on obtaining money by false pretences, procurement fraud and money laundering.
The defendants allegedly defrauded graduate applicants of N675,675,000 during the 2014 Nigeria Immigration Service recruitment, during which no fewer than 20 job seekers lost their lives.
The EFCC also accused them of defrauding the 675, 675 applicants of N675,675,000.
Each of the 676,675 applicants was charged N1,000 each.
The defendants allegedly 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.
The EFCC also alleged that Drexel EFCC had no prior advertisement and no needs assessment and procurement plan was carried out before the contract was awarded.
According to the anti-graft agency, the contract was awarded through selective tendering procedure by invitation of four firms without seeking the approval of the Bureau for Public Procurement.
The said act was said to be 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.
After the arraignment on Monday, the lead prosecuting counsel, Mr. Aliyu Yusuf, applied that the accused persons be remanded in prison and also asked the court to give trial dates.
But counsel for the the second defendant (Alayebami), Chief Chris Uche (SAN), informed the court that he had filed a bail application on behalf of his client.
Yusuf said the bail application was only served on the commission on Friday and thus needed needed time to respond to it.
But Uche, who said Alayebami is a nursing mother and “a victim of circumstances”, urged Justice Chikere to release her on bail pending the hearing of his bail application.
The judge granted the application and fixed Wednesday for hearing of the accused persons’ bail applications.