By Abdulaziz Salisu
Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court in Maitama, Abuja has turned down the application of Abba Moro, former interior minister, to travel abroad for medical appointment.
Mr Moro is facing an 11-count charge of procurement fraud and money laundering preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
He is being charged alongside the former permanent secretary in the ministry, Anastasia Daniel-Nwobia, a deputy director in the ministry, F. O Alayebami, one Mahmood Ahmadu (at large), and Drexel Tech Nigeria Limited, a firm that was given the contract to organise the ill-fated Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS, recruitment in 2014.
Mr Moro, had through his counsel, Paul Erokoro, SAN, sought leave of the court to travel abroad for a medical appointment in an application dated December 16, 2016.
At the resumed sitting today, Mr Erokoro, while reminding the court of the pending application urged his lordship to allow the defendant attend to his medical needs abroad.
In his ruling, Justice Dimgba noted that, the application, dated December 16, 2016 addressed the request for the defendant to travel out of the country for a medical appointment in January 2017.
“A medical appointment for January 2017 cannot be given in March”, the judge held.
Justice Dimgba asked that the counsel update the application, and adjourned till Tuesday 21 March for hearing on pending applications.
Earlier in the proceeding, Ishaq Yahaya, a director of compliance at the Bureau of Public Procurement, BPP, who testified as PW3 was called to the witness box for further cross-examination.
He had at the last sitting on 16 March, while being cross-examined by Mr Erokoro and Chris Uche, SAN, counsel to 1st and 2nd defendants, told the court that Drexel Tech Global Services, a company purportedly used by the defendant to perpetuate the alleged crime “is non-existent”.
Answering questions by S.I. Ameh, SAN, counsel to the fourth defendant, Drexel Tech Nigeria Limited, Mr Yahaya gave additional insight into how the recruitment of 17 March, 2014 that led to the death of scores of Nigerian job applicants was carried out without due process.
He informed the court of the provisions of the Public Procurement Act for procurement of services.
According to him, “While the use of ICT cannot be tagged as a criminal activity, the method prescribed by the Public Procurement Act for procurement of services are: the Open Competitive Method, the Special and Restricted Methods, under which are Selective Tendering, Direct Procurement, Emergency Procurement and Two-Stage Tendering. Consultancy falls under all the methods”.
Regarding the contract (Exhibit AAFD 13), Mr Yahaya said, “The parties to the e-recruitment platform contract were the Ministry of Interior and Drexel Tech Nigeria Ltd. The contractual agreement between the Interior Ministry and Drexel was a Public-Private Partnership project, as indicated by the Minister. Drexel was engaged to provide the e-recruitment platform for the Government.
“The item and the amount relating to the operational cost of N83million were not captured in the document. No sum from the Federal Government was invested in this project. Information on a sharing ratio of 70:30 between the Federal Government and the contractor was not captured in the document”.
He added that there was no supplementary document or addendum with the documents supplied by the Ministry for the purpose of review.
Upon allusions by Mr Ameh to the effect that the BPP did not write to Drexel Tech Nigeria Ltd for their account of events, Mr Yahaya said, “We were reviewing the contract and not Drexel, the organisation”.