In 2014, the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), organised a massive recruiting exercise which claimed the lives of several applicants due to over crowing and stampede. That process was later realized to be a scam. On Monday, 22nd February, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arrested former Minister of Interior, Abba Moro, over the scam recruitment. Abba Moro was arrested by the anti-graft agency alongside former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Anaesthesia Nwaobia, and a deputy director who allegedly facilitated the scam.
“They were brought into the Commission’s headquarters today and will be arraigned on a 12-count charge in the Federal High Court Abuja on Tuesday,” an anonymous source said.
Mr. Moro and his colleagues were charged for the following: obtaining by false pretense, procurement offences, corrupt practices and money laundering. Not less than nine job seekers died on March 15, 2014 at the Abuja National Stadium while scrambling to secure seats for a recruitment test into the Nigerian Immigration Service. The stampede was as a result of a poorly organized barricade at the stadium as over 200,000 job seekers struggled for space to breath, stretch and navigate.
In Port Harcourt, four applicants died from the stampede while 12 others sustained injuries and were rushed to Rivers government-owned Braithwaite Memorial Hospital. After the March 15 tragedy, several Nigerians demanded the resignation or dismissal of Mr. Moro and the Comptroller-General of Immigration, David Parradang, as well as their criminal prosecution for involuntary homicide. They were accused of putting in place a sham recruitment process that enabled the Interior Ministry to extort at least N520 million in compulsory levy imposed on applicants during the registration process.
The Minister, who initially blamed impatience and refusal by applicants to abide by instructions for the tragedy, later accepted responsibility for the incident. He, however, refused to step down. On the 24th of October 2014 Mr. Moro came on Channels TV’s breakfast programme, Sunrise, stating that he would rather stay put in office to clear the mess caused by the incidence, than resign.
“The point at which we are now is not about resignation. That time has gone. At the time (people were calling for his resignation), I think emotions were very high. I was in the eye of a storm. At that time, a lot of options were on the table. The issue is, do you resign or do you stay to sort out the problem that have been created?
“I decided that staying and mopping up the mess caused by the lack of proper implementation of our plans is better. That’s the point we are now,” Mr. Morro said in response to a question over why he refused to quit.
The Minister said Nigerians should consider the tragedy as an accident which he too did not plan for or envisage.
“I also have families. I didn’t set out on that journey knowing that accident would occur that would lead to the death of human beings. We took everything into proper perspective. If we had succeeded, a few Nigerians would have congratulated us for the job well done.”
Now, the EFFC would make sure that Mr. Moro and his partners in crime would pay for the poor job hunters who they defrauded as well as the innocent hustlers that lost their lives in the recruitment process.