EFCC reopens probe into immigration job scandal

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has reopened investigations into the Nigerian Immigration Service recruitment tragedy in 2014, which led to the death of 19 young job seekers, The PUNCH learnt on Monday.

Operatives of the anti-graft agency on Monday quizzed the immediate past Comptroller General of the NIS, Mr. David Paradang, for over seven hours. Paradang was asked questions about the N555m said to have been collected from applicants who participated in the 2014 exercise.

The Senate under David Mark as president had in 2014 probed the tragedy but the report of the investigative committee did not see the light of the day before the seventh senate ended.

The PUNCH learnt that the EFCC invited Paradang to appear before it to provide explanation on how the money collected from job seekers in March 2014 was spent.

A top operative of the commission told one of our correspondents on the condition of anonymity that the NIS under Paradang and those who played crucial roles in the ill-fated recruitment only declared N45m as the money collected.

The source said that investigations conducted by operatives of the commission revealed that the applicants paid N600m.

It was added that top officials of the Ministry of Interior and the Civil Defence, Fire, Immigration and Prison Services Board, only declared N45m as the amount collected.

Paradang was said to have arrived at the Idiagbon House headquarters of the EFCC at Wuse II, Abuja, by 10 am and was taken straight to the interrogation room for a interrogation session that lasted seven hours.

As of 5pm when our correspondents filed this story, Paradang was still responding to questions from EFCC operatives probing the alleged fraud.

The source said, “Operatives of the commission are interrogating the former Comptroller General, Immigration, Mr. David Paradang.

“The man was invited and he came on his own and he was immediately ushered into the interrogation room. No, he was not arrested.

“Operatives are interrogating him in relation with the Immigration recruitment exercise that led to the death of many innocent Nigerians in 2014.

“The commission is probing the disappearance of N600m that was received from the applicants.

“There is this report that those who carried out that exercise declared only N45m out of the N600m they collected. We want to know where the remaining N555m is”

The PUNCH also learnt that the EFCC might invite the immediate past Minister of Interior, Mr. Abba Moro, and other top officials of the interior ministry in relation with the issue.

The Head of Media and Publicity of the EFCC, Mr.Wilson Uwujaren, confirmed to our correspondent on the telephone that Paradang was at the EFCC.

“He was invited and he came,” he said and refused further comments.

Before the May 15, 2014 tragedy, a recruitment committee headed by S.D Tapgun, the Director/Secretary of the board, had recommended that the recruitment exercise be shifted to either the last weekend in March or second week in April, 2014 for proper arrangement to be made.

The recruitment committee also proposed that N5m should be budgeted for hiring of ambulances and buying of water.

At its last meeting held on March 7, 2014, the committee raised a memo to Moro on its recommendations, but the memo was ignored.

The 16 members of the committee were drawn from the CDFIPB, NIS, Ministry of Interior, and Drexel Tech Nigeria Limited, which managed the online portal for the recruitment exercise.

The members include Tapgun (CDFIPB); JaeI Kpatuvvak, Deputy Director (A&P), CDFIPB; Okhamera A. I., Asst. Director (Admin), CDFIPB; Bello Torankawa, Asst. Director (A&P), CDFIPB; Hamid AbduII-Iamid, Asst. Director (IMM), CDFIPB; Aduku, M. M., Asst. Director (D&GP), CDFIPB; and Oyedeji, T.V., CIS (APU) , NIS.

Others are Abubakar A. A., Interior ministry; Chukwu O. C., Rep. Asst. Director (F&A), CDFIPB; I. M. Makama, LA, CDFIPB; Nasiru Yusuf, ICT Unit, CDFIPB; . Shehu Mohammed, Deputy Director (D &GP), CDFIPB; Mukah O. S., Chief Admin. Officer (FFS); Theodore Maiyaki, Drexei Tech.; Wiiiiam Butau, Drexel Tech; and Abioye Bankole, Drexei Tech.

The committee budgeted Nll2,38l, 200 for the exercise to cover Duty Tour Allowance for immigration officials, cost of radio and television announcements, cost of setting examination questions, cost of digital printing machine, marking scanners and contingency (five per cent of the total costs).

Though each applicant paid N1000 for the online registration, no money was released to the recruitment committee by the Interior ministry.

The committee met with officials of Drexel Tech Nigeria Limited and asked the firm to provide funds for the recruitment because there was no provision for the exercise in the 2014 budget.

The firm released N45m on March 12 to enable the aptitude test to hold as scheduled.

Following the recruitment tragedy, former President Goodluck Jonathan directed the ministry to refund the N1,000 to the applicants, but the directive was not carried out by the ministry.

The career of Parradang ended on August 21, 2015 when he was suspended by the Federal Government for illegally recruiting 1,600 personnel into the service in May, 2015 without the approval of the Civil Defence, Fire, Immigration and Prisons Services Board, which has the statutory power to recruit.

He was said to have recruited 700 Assistant Inspectors of Immigration and 900 Immigration Assistants III, towards the end of Jonathan’s tenure.

He was subsequently replaced by Martin Abeshi by President Muhammadu Buhari a week later.

Though the Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, visited the Presidential Villa to plead with Buhari, the sacking of the suspended CG indicated that the visit was not successful.

Culled from: http://www.punchng.com/news/efcc-reopens-probe-into-immigration-job-scandal/

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