How Abba Moro, others cut cost causing NIS recruitment tragedy – Witness

FILE PHOTO: Surging crowd at an Immigration recruitment test in 2014.
FILE PHOTO: Surging crowd at an Immigration recruitment test in 2014.

Despite raking in about N1 billion from sale of forms, only N45 million was released for the conduct of the tragic 2014 immigration recruitment exercise, a witness told the court on Friday

Tabugn Sylvanus, a retired Director and Secretary of the Board of the National Immigration Service, NIS, said N201 million was actually required for a proper conduct of the exercise.

Mr. Sylvanus also told the Federal High Court that a last minute adjustment made to the recruitment exercise moved the number of expected participants at the Abuja test venue from 6,800 to over 66,000.

Mr. Sylvanus is the second persecution witness to testify in court during the ongoing trial of former Interior Minister, Abba Moro.

Mr. Moro, who was also the chairman of the board of the NIS, is accused of defrauding hundreds of thousands of job seekers, who paid N1,000 each for the recruitment test.

Despite raising about a billion naira from the job seekers, the tests were poorly organised at different centres across the country, resulting in deadly stampedes with at least 18 deaths confirmed, majority from the Abuja stadium stampede.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, said part of the proceeds of the recruitment fees was used to buy choice property in Abuja.

Former Minister of Interior, Abba Moro being arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission at the Federal High Court
Former Minister of Interior, Abba Moro being arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission at the Federal High Court

The anti-graft agency charged Mr. Moro alongside Anastasia Nwaobia; a deputy director in the interior ministry, Felix Alayabami; and a company, Drexel Tech Nigeria Limited.

Narrating the circumstances that resulted in the deadly stampede during the March15, 2014 NIS recruitment exercise, Mr. Sylvanus said the cheque of N45 million which came from the contracting company, Drexel Nigeria Limited, was placed in the accounts of the various officers coordinating the exercise on March 12.

“We wrote the chairman (Mr. Moro), indicating the cost of the exercise. We came up with N201 million and forwarded to the honourable chairman for approval. The chairman gave his approval and conveyed same to Drexel,” Mr. Sylvanus said.

“The company fired back that they were not supposed to be responsible to fund the exercise. But as a benevolent gesture; they attached a cheque of N45 million as their contribution to the exercise.

“The cheque was received around March 12 at 3 p.m.

“Immediately we informed the chairman who ordered that we trim the budget to meet the available sum of money. We launched the cheque of N45 million. Officers were able to get their alert on Friday, but a few others could not get the money till the following day,” he said.

Mr. Sylvanus explained that the Federal Government incurred no cost during the preparations for the recruitment exercise.

When asked if he knew why the government resolved that each applicant pays N1,000, the retired civil servant said he was not aware because he was not present when the decision was made.

According to Mr. Sylvanus, after receiving the cheque and making the necessary adjustments, they met Mr. Moro for approval.

The board chairman glanced through the arrangements for the exercise and called for an adjustment of the arrangement for venue, he said.

“The chairman took a glance at all our plans and said we should proceed. The only objection he had was that the initial arrangement for candidates to sit for the exams at their various states was altered because candidates had indicated preferences.”

It was this change in plans that led to the disaster, Mr. Sylvanus explained.

“Because of the change in the announcements that candidates should sit at their choice venues, FCT that had about 6,800 now got up to 66,000 candidates,” he said.

“They now came looking for the National Stadium and for that, an additional N3 million was required. From the budget, we had to collapse what we had proposed for marking and for fuel to be able to get N2 million.

Immigration test Abuja 8
Job seekers at the National Stadium, Abuja for the Immigration Test

“The Comptroller General, Immigrations also sent in N1 million making N3 million,” Mr. Sylvanus said.


The ex-immigration official also told the court that officers who went to survey the National Stadium, Abuja, that Saturday at 4 a.m. reported that some applicants slept at the stadium, awaiting the exercise.

“I took that as a warning sign that the security architect that was duly placed may not hold,” he said.

Mr. Sylvanus said he immediately made several calls to the board chairman but could not hear him because there was too much noise in the background.

He said they then tried to reach Mr. Moro, but could not. He said they were later told that Mr. Moro was in church and had switched off his cell phone.

When the minister was contacted, Mr. Sylvanus said, he went with them to get the details of what transpired.

“At 11 o’clock after we had gotten in touch with all the states, we went to the National Stadium, but could not get in. While we were trying to get in, we got a report from the officer in charge of the FCT recruitment that there was an incident in the western gate. We went to the National Stadium where the security explained to us and the honourable minister what had happened.

“What happened was that there were people from inside the gate that were trying to get out and some from outside who were trying to get in. The number of those trying to get in was more that those from inside trying to get out. So while they were trying to get in, the ones outside fell the gate and on those inside and they were trampled upon.

After about five hours of hearing the witness’ testimony, the trial judge, Namdi Dimgba, adjourned the matter till October 14 for further hearing.

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  • Nkem

    “He said they then tried to reach Mr. Moro, but could not. He said they were later told that MR. MORO WAS IN CHURCH and had switched off his cell phone.”

    • Local Observer

      Everywhere I go nowadays,
      Nigerians are invoking bad curses on Muhamadu Buhari for destroying their country.
      They are all saying there is nothing good to write home about Muhamadu Buhari –
      neither morals nor good thinking – absolutely nothing. Nigerians are just fed up
      with this Muhamadu Buhari.

      The whole world can hear
      the agony and sorrows of Nigerians who regret electing such a person as
      president. To me, the only way forward now is either for President Buhari to
      rule with brutal force and tackle the people of the country in physical showdown
      or to just quietly resign and go to his village without any need for national broadcast.

      • Ashibogu

        So you don’t want the man to get a second term? You people are not good o! Buhari fail then he should repeat. Abi no bi so? Me I no spoke weed I just dey get brain wave.

      • Mufu Ola

        “Everywhere” you go. How many places in Nigeria have you gone?Or you think your locality is everywhere ?

  • Viva Revo

    Premium Times Editor,

    Muhamadu Buhari is NOT the solution to corruption

    Unless Nigerians resolve to deal with treasury thieves by moving
    against these treasury thieves physically and with deadly weapons to stop those
    robbing the country and claiming a right to do so, the country will never exit
    the pains and poverty of economic recession hurting the honest Nigerians –
    because recession has no meaning to treasury thieves and their criminal
    business proxies who stash away billions of Naira, stolen from the treasury by false
    accounting and by false invoices signed to dupe a whole country. Only honest
    Nigerians bear the whole pain of economic recession. In short, until Nigerians
    rise and kill these known treasury thieves in each neighborhood, there’s no
    hope or comfort for Nigeria. Rise and kill treasury thieves in self-defence
    before they ruin your lives! President Muhamadu Buhari benefited
    from the proceeds of thefts for his 2015 president campaign.
    President Buhari is now ambivalent on corruption nearby.

    • No Comment

      “Instead of a remake of “Horatius at the bridge” with the
      fearless hero Muhamadu Buhari cast in the lead role, the film we originally sat
      down to watch with great relish has suddenly veered into a totally different story,
      with the lead actor recasting himself as a timid character who is tottering on
      the edge of the bridge, utterly consumed by the need to avoid falling into the
      raging waters of the river below instead of striding forward manfully to deal
      decisive blows on the enemies of the Nigerian nation…”

      “And now, just as have begun stirring restlessly in our seats, wondering whether or not to start heading towards
      the exit of the cinema theatre, the film we had been watching has suddenly morphed into a dreadful nightmare
      in which the lead actor is captured by a dangerous group of extortionists and looters spearheaded by a certain pot-bellied General Aremu O (rtd)…, who have openly ganged up to rob the Nigerian nation of her few
      remaining assets by braying loudly for the sale of major public corporations at ridiculous prices to
      members of the mafia group of ugly conspirators under the guise of “saving Nigeria from the effects
      of recession”… WHAT is actually going on? HAS PRESIDENT BUHARI COMPLETELY LOST THE
      PLOT? Alas, alas, for our poor nation!”

      .………..Dr. Ola Balogun

      (Professor of Dramatic Arts)

      [September 30th, 2016)

  • Layo

    After making millions on hungry job seekers, he went to church to pray. We are so easily fooled by religion.

    • Tunji Olarewaju

      I’m sure the moron would be dancing, jumping up and down thanking God for His ‘blessings ‘ that Sunday. What a charlatan!

  • Rommel

    This was the blood sucking administration that some people are today trying to whitewash hoping that Nigerians have forgotten why they were voted out,the Jonathan administration remains the greatest tragedy of Nigeria after the civil war.

  • FreeNigeria

    Anything short of death sentence for Moro will be an injustice to the dead job seekers.

  • Wilfred Bankole Ademokun



    Abba Moro should be on trial for mass murder and not embezzlement .

  • vagabonds in power

    How did Bingo Buhari react when the Conference of Nigerian Civil Rights Activists, demanded the immediate removal of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, over his ownership of two properties in Dubai, the commercial nerve centre of the United Arab Emirates.

    Did they the Apes in APC not explain to us that the continued retention of Buratai in his position by President Muhammadu Buhari would rubbish the current anti-corruption crusade of the incumbent administration? Is it because this mumu Benue man is from the North Central that he is being chased all over the place?

    Bingo Buhari has continued to retain the Dubai thief despite the recent revelation of the procurement of properties in Dubai by the COAS as published by media houses in Nigeria-Is that alone not a dent on the integrity of the Buhari’s administration? Na Dame Jonathan ati other Ijaws from the Niger delta, una TRIPOD—-dey get power abi-? What about Amaechi-AISHA BUHARI-Fashola Fayemi—and Tinubu? Let this case serve as a lesson to the mumu people of Benue ati Plateau-who sold their birth right to the Fulanis———————in APC———————-now who has been put on trial for the murder of the Ibo farmers and that of Bernue ati Plateau-‘ Was the Minister of Internal Affairs sacked because of that–by Bingo Buhari?

  • Alhaji

    Buhari himself is a fraud. So, fraud + fraud = bamoozlement

    • EFE

      Focus on the subject matter. And quit digressing.

    • Mufu Ola

      “Alhaji”. Your are still floating around? Fakeman

  • Fadama

    Abba Moro is a definition is pure evil. Eternal punishment awaits him. I spit on him