Anastasia Daniel-Nwobia, a second defence witness in the trial of former Minister of Interior, Abba Moro, on Thursday, said the award of e-recruitment contract to a firm, Drexel Tech Nigeria Ltd, followed due process.
Daniel-Nwobia, who was a Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Interior, told Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court in Abuja when she was being cross examined by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s lawyer, Samuel Chime.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the recruitment exercise conducted by the ministry into the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) in 2014 had resulted in the death of some applicants across the country while many sustained injuries.
The former permanent secretary, who is also being charged alongside Sen. Moro, was arraigned on May 11, 2016, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Others arraigned with them were an ex-director in the ministry, Felix Alayebami and a firm, Drexel Tech Nigeria Ltd.
They were arraigned on an 11-count charge bordering on conspiracy, fraud and money laundering in the botched 2014 NIS recruitment exercise.
Although the charges were amended on Feb. 23, 2018, the defendants pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
NAN also reports that Justice Dimgba had, on June 25 while delivering ruling in a no-case submissions by the defendants, discharged and acquitted Drexel Tech Nigeria limited from the entire charges.
During cross-examination, Daniel-Nwobia said she was the chairman, Ministerial Tender Board (MTB) at the time.
She said Moro, who currently represents Benue South Senatorial District, was not a member of the MTB.
The witness said she was a permanent secretary between July 2012 and July 2013 before she was transferred to another ministry.
Daniel-Nwobia, who admitted being the accounting officer of the ministry, said MTB “considers memos presented to it by the Procurement Department and approves same after careful evaluation in line with Public Procurement Act (PPA).”
“Yes, the board has a final say in the award of contract within its threshold,” she said.
She said the ministry decided to digitise all its operations at the time, including the e-recruitment exercise.
She said the MTB approved the recommendation of the memo submitted to it by the relevant department in the award of the contract and was subsequently approved by the former minister in line with the provisions of the PPA.
“The ministry adopted best practices in the award of the contract to Drexel Tech Nigeria Ltd,” she added.
She said out of the four companies shortlisted for the contract, Drexel Tech was selected because it submitted “the most responsive proposal.”
Daniel-Nwobia clarified that it was a contractor finance project at no cost to the Federal Government.
She said though each applicant was made to pay N1000 to log into the employment site, the company financed the installation of the e-portal.
“The capital input for the project was financed by Drexel Tech Nigeria Ltd,” she said.
NAN reports that Moro, while being led in evidence on Dec. 3, 2020, said the e-recruitment was to ensure transparency, cost effectivenss, give opportunity to all Nigerians and to solve the problems of long distance travel of applicants with hazards of accident, armed robbery attack, etc.
Justice Dimgba adjourned the matter until April 26 and April 27 for continuation of the cross examination by the EFCC lawyer.