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Probe into NIS deaths off to shaky start

28 March 2014, 10:33Henry Ifeanyi

Lagos - A senate inquiry into the deaths of job seekers during the recruitment exercise the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) conducted last month has degenerated into a blame game after the government agencies and the consulting firm involved in the process denied responsibility for the tragedy.

Drexel, the consulting company, partnered NIS with the exercise that left 16 jobseekers dead following a stampede.

At the Senate hearing on the incident, the consulting firm however absolved itself of any complicity in the recruitment exercise saying its contract did not entail providing logistics or security for the candidates.

It said the NIS and the Interior Ministry was saddled with that responsibility and should be blamed for the tragedy.

The consulting firm disclosed that though it collected about N710 million from the recruitment exercise and only decided to release N45 million to assist NIS out of generosity.

On his part, the Comptroller General of Immigration, David Parradang, said one of the most outstanding breaches of the exercise was the decision by the planners to take over the recruitment of both the senior and junior cadres.

He said this was not in line with previous exercises where the supervising board took charge of the senior cadres while Immigration Service recruited the junior cadres.

“For all the years I have spent in the service, no one has ever taken away from us the right to recruit the Cadre B officials. And that was why I protested very vehemently,” Parradang said.

Secretary to the Immigration board, SD Tapgun, told the Senate committee carrying out the probe that the board did not have independent means of knowing the exact figure of those that took part in the recruitment exercise.

Tapgun said funding was a serious challenge, and gave the impression it was the main reason the Interior Ministry refused suggestions that the exercise be staggered and conducted separately based on cadres.

He said the board estimated the exercise to cost N201 million, but after collecting N710 million, the consultant, Drexel, only released N45 million for the exercise to be conducted.

Mustapha Karim, member of the board, in his testimony, said he was not aware of the plans nor was the recruitment ever discussed at any of the board’s meetings.

He said he and other members of the board only knew of the plans after being shown a copy of the agreement for the recruitment between the Interior Ministry and Drexel.

Karim alleged the agreement was signed by Interior Minister Moro without the knowledge of the board.

Another signature, purportedly of a former secretary of the board, was allegedly forged.

Moro in his defence said it was “regrettable” that those who knew everything about the exercise were denying their roles.

He insisted that everything about the exercise was well planned and that it was unfortunate how the exercise resulted in tragedy.

– CAJ News

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