From GODWIN TSA, Abuja
The controversy over the deadly recruitment test conducted by the Nigeria Immigration Service has metarmorphosed into a legal action brought against the Federal Government by the applicants who participated in the exercise.
Specifically, four persons acting for themselves and onbehalf of all those applicants to recruitment exercise which claimed 18 lives yesterday dragged the Federal Government, Minister of Interior and four others before a Federal High court seeking an order declaring that the conduct or the execution of the Recruitment Exercise illegal, unwarranted, in violation of the Applicants’ fundamental rights to life.
The suit was brought under Sections 33,34, and 44 of the 1999 Constitition (amended) and the equivalent articles of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Right Act.
Also joined as respondents in the suit are the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Ministry of Interior, Nigerian Immigration Service and its Comptroller General, David Shikfu Parradang.
The applicants, Charles Ugwuonye, Friday Danlami, Chinedu Onwuka and Samson Ojo through their counsel, Emeka Ugwuonye had among other things want the court to declare the recruitment exercise illegal and restrain the NIS from spending the money realized from the recruitment exercise.
They also want the court to order the respondents to refund the recruitment money back to the applicants, pay the sum of N1m to each applicant and N50m to deceased applicants as general damages.
They also want the court to declare that the conduct or the execution of the Recruitment illegal, unwarranted, in violation of the Applicants’ fundamental rights to life, right to protection from inhuman and degrading treatment, right to dignity of the human person, right against discrimination on the basis of the circumstances of birth and right against unlawful taking of the property of a person; under Sections 33, 34, 42 and 44 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, (as amended), and the equivalent Articles of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights Act.
The applicant had prayed for an order declaring that the Respondents, particularly the Minister of Interior and Comptroller General of the Nigerian Immigration Service owed the duty of honesty and candor to the Applicants regarding the true purpose and intention behind the Recruitment Exercise.
The court is also asked to declare that the Respondents, particularly the Minister of Interior and the Controller General of the Nigerian Immigration Service had a duty to superintend the Recruitment Exercise in a safe and healthy manner with due consideration to lives and wellbeing of those who applied for or participated in the Recruitment Exercise.
The applicants further want an order declaring that the Nigerian Immigration 2014 Recruitment Exercise was carried out in a manner that was motivated by greed and corrupt intentions and without any realistic plan to offer the Applicants employments.
Also they want an order declaring that the Respondents do not have the power to appropriate any funds raised by them from the Recruitment Exercise, even if not otherwise illegal, but must remit such funds to the Federation Account.
The applicants further want court to grant an order of interim injunction restraining the Respondents from spending any of the funds raised from the Recruitment Exercise and an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Respondents from spending any of the funds raised from the Recruitment Exercise.
They also want the the court to direct the Respondents to refund each Applicant the sum of N1,000which he or she paid to participate in the Recruitment Exercise and also an order directing the Respondents to pay general damages in the amount of N1 million to each living Applicant for the violation of the Applicant’s rights as enumerated in this Application.
The court is also asked to make an order directing the Respondents to pay general damages in the amount of N50 million to each person who lost his or her life during the Recruitment Exercise.
In addition, the applicants want the court to make an order directing the Respondents to issue a written apology to the Applicants, which shall be published in five Nigerian newspapers and on the main website by the 5th Respondent and which shall remain posted on the said site for 3 (three) years in memory of those who died during the Recruitment Exercise.
In a 45 paragraph affidavit deposed to by one Chris Ebosie, the applicants averred that in or around September of 2013, the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) placed an advertisement, titled “Nigeria Immigration 2014 Recruitment Exercise”, on its website
http://www.immigration.gov.ng and several Nigerian newspapers.
They further averred that the said advertisement did no describe in a clear manner specific qualifications for the vacancies available and it did not indicate the number of vacancies available, but it merely encouraged anybody with qualifications greater than secondary school education to apply online through a website it designated for that purpose.
The plaintiffs also averred that the advertisement directed interested applicants to pay N1,000 through various banks listed in the advertisement, including, but not limited to, Zenith Bank. Upon payment of online of N1,000 (comprising N850.00 for Application Charges and N150.00 for Transaction Charges), an applicant will receive a three paged print-out as in EXHIBIT A. The said print-out contains three sets of numbers, viz: (a) Validation Number, (b) Transaction Number and (c) Application Number. But there appears no distinct values for these numbers.
Also they averred that there was no indication as to the purpose of the N1000 paid by each applicant and the application process was left open between September 2013 and January 2014. The NIS encouraged more and more Nigerians to apply for the vacancies. Hundreds of thousands of people applied utilizing the same method that resulted in a print-out as in EXHIBIT A.
In addition, they averred that the consultant that handled the recruitment exercise into the Nigeria Immigration Service, was selected by the Ministry of Interior, without open competitive bidding and that the Ministry of Interior appointed the private firm, Drexel Nigeria Limited, to handle the recruitment process.
They added that the Minister of Interior, Patrick Abba Moro, had admitted publicly that 526,650 persons applied for the exercise nationwide, which translates to over N526,000,000 in revenue to the ministry and the consultant. See EXHIBIT B.
Also, “That the relationship between the NIS or the Ministry of Interior and Drexel is not an arms length relationship, but instead, on information and belief, Drexel is a front used by Patrick Abba Moro, the Minister of Interior. That I believe that the Ministry of Interior did not pay its share of the money to the Federation Account, but rather shared it among its principal officers, with Minister Moro keeping the bulk of the money for himself.
“That based on documentary evidence, the NIS was initially 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 Parradang, and his management team, did not protest the decision apart from a letter from Mr. Parradang raising the issues. See EXHIBIT C, which is a letter from Mr. Parradang on the issues.
“That the NIS leadership was said to have kept silent over the issue to avoid a clash with Minister Moro and the Ministry of Interior officials and the Civil Defence, Fire, Immigration, and Prison Service Board, controlled by Mr. Moro.
“That the NIS had vacancy for about 4,500 personnel, but the number of applicants was far in excess of the figure, meaning that only one candidate would be hired out of over 117 applicants. This information was not made available to the public until 15th March, 2014, after the recruitment exercise had been underway with all the crisis that marked it. See EXHIBIT B.
“That the criteria for the employment into the vacancies were vague, imprecise and generic to make most Nigerians believe they were qualified for the vacancies and stood a good chance of getting recruited.
“That I believe that goal behind such vague description of qualification criteria was aimed at raising as much money as possible irrespective of the vacancies available.
“That it appears that the use of a consultant to recruit personnel for the para-military agency was an aberration because the consulting firm could not carry out the necessary security checks on the applicants.
“That the consultant firm is relatively unknown as it has no website of its own, no listing in any list of consulting firms, no history, no track record, and appears to have been set up just for this recruitment exercise.
“That the decision to use the particular consultant was taken solely by the Ministry of interior for political patronage and the NIS leadership did not protest it to avoid a clash with the ministry leadership”.
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