The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on January 24, 2018, asked Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja, to order the interim forfeiture of properties purchased by Drexel Tech Nig. Ltd with proceeds of the recruitment exercise of the NIS Scam.
It would be recalled that the recruitment exercise resulted in the death of about 20 applicants in various recruitment centers across the country.
Drexel Tech Nigeria Limited is the firm that was given the recruitment contract into the NIS, held on March 17, 2013, when Abba Moro (the first defendant in the suit) was interior minister.
The motion on notice, dated November 6, 2017, moved by counsel to the EFCC, Aliyu M. Yusuf, was brought pursuant to Sections 6(d), 7(2), 24, 26(1) & (3), 28 and 34(1) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act No; 1 of 2004, Sections 329, 330 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 and Sections 46(2) (k), 251(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
Among other reliefs, the EFCC is seeking “an order stopping the disposal, conveyance, mortgage, lease, sale or alienation or otherwise tampering with the properties/assets’ which are located at No 1, Lahn Crescent, Maitama, Abuja and No. 2, Sigure Close, Off Monrovia Street, Wuse II, Abuja”.
S. I. Ameh, SAN, representing Drexel Tech Nigeria Limited, strongly opposed the motion describing it as “overwhelming and prejudicial.”
According to him, “The money that was collected is traceable, as to what amount went to whom. We have earlier written to the EFCC that we can return the money to EFCC and the applicants, but they have not replied.”
Ameh, while urging the court not grant the motion said, “instead, the defense will prepare a written undertaking that the property in question will not be tampered with in terms of sale and transfer of title until the matter is concluded in court”.
He requested that the court takes into consideration that the EFCC had already placed a caveat on the properties.
In response, Yusuf countered Ameh’s submission saying, “Information reaching us suggests that the defendant (the alter ego of Drexel Tech Nigeria Limited) who is at large is currently making efforts to dispose of the property.”
He urged the court to hear the application on merit.
Justice Dimgba, thereafter, fixed Wednesday, February 28, 2018, for hearing on the motion.
Earlier in the proceedings, the prosecution presented a further amended 11-count charge against the defendants.
The judge, despite objections by the defense, who argued that the defendants did not have sufficient time to ‘look at the charge properly’ and that the process is titled ‘further amended charge’ instead of ‘amended charge, admitted the charge.
“Sufficient time has been given to make a plea on this charge, whether a plea of guilty or not,” he said.
He, however, ordered the prosecution to make the requested changes to the charge and the defendants to take their pleas.
Thereafter, the charges were read to the defendants, who all pleaded not guilty to the counts.
Count 11 of the further amended charge reads:
“That you, Abba Moro Patrick and Anastasia Daniel Nwobia and F. O. Alaiyebami on or about the 17th of March, 2013 at Abuja within the Jurisdiction of this Honorable Court being employed in the public service, did abuse your office when you arbitrarily conducted recruitment exercise into the Nigeria Immigration Service in which 675,675 (six hundred and seventy five thousand, Six Hundred and Seventy Five) applicants were each made to pay the sum of N1000 (One Thousand Naira ) to Drexel Tech Nigeria Limited without following the required procurement procedure and without adequate preparation and security safe guards for the exercise resulting into the stampede, injury and death of applicants, an act which was prejudicial to the rights of the said applicants contrary to and punishable under Section 104 of the Criminal Code Act, Cap C39 LFN 2004.”
Credit: Sahara reporters