The consultant that handled the recruitment exercise into the Nigeria Immigration Service, was selected by the Ministry of Interior, without open competitive bidding, investigation has shown.
About 19 applicants died during the exercise last Saturday while scores of others were injured.
Findings indicated that the ministry appointed the private firm, Drexet Nigeria Limited, to handle the recruitment process, for which it charged each applicant N1,000 for online registration.
The Minister of Interior, Abba Moro, had said that 526,650 persons applied for the exercise nationwide, which translates to over N526m in revenue to the ministry and the consultant.
It could not be ascertained whether the ministry paid its share of the money to the Federation Account or if it was shared by the principal officials.
It was learnt that the immigration service was not comfortable with the decision of the Ministry of Interior to use a consultant to handle the recruitment process, but the Comptroller General of Immigration, David Padarrang, and his management team, did not protest the decision.
The NIS leadership was said to have kept mum over the issue to avoid a clash with the ministry officials and the Civil Defence, Fire, Immigration, and Prison Service Board.
Investigations showed that the immigration service had vacancy for less than 5,000 personnel, but the number of applicants were far in excess of the figure.
It was learnt that the use of a consultant to recruit personnel for the para-military agency was an aberration because the firm could not carry out the necessary security checks on applicants.
“Other para-military security agencies recruit their personnel without using consultants, but the opposite is the case with the immigration service; the decision was taken solely by the ministry for political patronage and the NIS leadership did not protest it to avoid a clash with the ministry leadership,” a source stated.
The former CG of NIS, Rose Uzoma, was sacked in 2013 for allegedly allocating 5,000 job slots to the First Lady, Patience Jonathan, National Assembly members and others.
The interior ministry had claimed ignorance of the scheme then and the Federal Government subsequently relieved her of her job.
When asked what informed the use of a consultant for the tragic recruitment exercise, the Immigration Public Relations Officer, Emeka Obua, said it was a policy decision, adding that the question should be directed to the minister and the Chairman of the Civil Defence, Fire, Immigration, and Prison Service Board.
He said, “The decision to use a consultant for the recruitment, is a policy decision and I think the question should be directed to the minister and the Chairman of the service board. They are in a better position to answer the question.”
Asked if it was not an indictment that the service could not recruit its personnel itself, Obua, explained that the NIS was pained by the loss of lives during the recruitment.
But he added that the agency was not in a position to choose how its personnel should be recruited.
He expressed the conviction that a probe of the incident would expose all the issues behind the recruitment, stressing that “journalists should ask questions and do their investigations to show what caused the deaths and how the whole exercise was handled leading to avoidable loss of lives.”
But the Special Assistant to the minister on media, George Udoh, said it was unfortunate that the deaths clouded the good initiative of the minister.
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