Former Comptroller-General of Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), David Shikfu Paradang, has denied his involvement in the 2014 recruitment exercise conducted by the agency in which over 20 job seekers died.
Paradang spoke today while testifying as the first prosecution witness in the trial of former Minister of Interior, Abba Moro and three others before the Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja.
Moro is being tried alongside former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Interior, Mrs Anastasia Daniel-Nwobia, ex-director in the ministry, Felix O Alayebami and a firm, Drexel Tech Nigeria Limited, on an 11-count charge.
They are facing trial for their alleged involvement in the botched 2014 recruitment exercise of the NIS while Moro was a minister.
Besides, they are accused of defrauding 675, 675 graduate applicants of about N675,675,000, having been made to pay N1,000 each as processing fees for 5,000 job openings.
The four defendants were also accused of breaching the Public Procurement Act, No 65 of 2007 in the award of the contract to Drexel Tech Nigeria Limited for conduction of the recruitment test.
Paradang, who was led in evidence by prosecution lawyer, Aliyu Yusuf, said that even as CG of NIS, he was never involved in the planning and execution of the recruitment exercise, but only read about it in the media.
He added that his attention was drawn to a publication in one of the dailies in respect of a recruitment exercise purportedly being carried out by NIS.
"As the then Comptroller-General of NIS, I was neither aware of the ‘advertisement’ nor the recruitment exercise. So, it came to me as a surprise.
"I called Secretary of the NIS Board, Dr Attahiru when I was aware of the exercise and asked if the agency was recruiting and the man responded ‘yes’.
"I was worried by Attahiru's response and further asked him (Attahiru) why me, as head of the agency (NIS), was not informed of the recruitment, but he told me not to worry."
The former NIS boss said that he wrote a letter to Attahiru that same day (September 9, 2013), expressing his dismay over the advertisement placed for employment.
Meanwhile, defence lawyers, Chris Uche (SAN), Paul Erokoro (SAN) and Sunday Ameh (SAN) objected to the admissibility of a copy of the letter and the witness' pattern of evidence, stressing that it amounted to hearsay evidence.
The defence counsel argued that Paradang could not give details of what he was told by others, who are not witnesses before the court.
Erokoro (for Moro) said that though the document was certified, there was no evidence to show that the certification fee was paid as it carries no endorsement certificate.
He added that being a public document, it is not admissible because it didn't meet all the necessary conditions precedent to its admissibility.
Uche (for Mrs Daniel-Nwobia) agreed with Erokoro's position and urged the court to reject the document.
Ameh (for Alayebami ) argued that the certification supposed to be done by the person, who possessed an original copy of the letter, but it was done by an official of the Ministry of Interior instead of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), who was secretary of the board.
However, Yusuf argued that the document, being relevant to the proceedings, is admissible as relevancy determines admissibility.
He said that the witness (Paradang) had testified that he made the document and sent it to the Secretary of the board.
The prosecution counsel cited Section 104 of the Evidence Act to support his position that the requirement of fees payment was not necessary for criminal proceedings.
Subsequently, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba adjourned the matter till Friday for ruling and continuation of trial.