In dramatic twist that caught everyone unawares, Anwuli Chikere, Justice of a Federal High Court, Abuja, has washed her hands off the trial of Abba Moro, former Minister of Interior, citing personal reasons.
Justice Chikere, who made this known at the resumed hearing of the case, Wednesday, said she was withdrawing for personal reasons. She did not elaborate.
“I am sending it back to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court for reassignment on personal reasons,” Chikere said.
“When it is reassigned, the prosecution can go after it.”
In March, Justice Chikere granted Moro bail on self-recognition, and had adjourned the case to April 27 for trial.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission arraigned Moro, on February 29 on an 11-count charge bordering on obtaining by false pretence, procurement fraud and money laundering.
Moro was arraigned alongside three others for their roles in the botched March 15, 2014 immigration recruitment exercise that killed no fewer than 20 job seekers across the country, the News Agency of Nigeria reported.
His co-accused are: Permanent Secretary of the Ministry at the time, Anastasia Daniel-Nwobia; a Deputy Director in the Ministry and the contracting firm given the recruitment job, Drexel Tech Nigeria Ltd.
The EFCC accused the defendants of defrauding 676,675 Nigerian applicants of N676,675,000 (Six Hundred and Seventy Six Million, Six Hundred and Seventy Five Thousand Naira).
Each of the 676,675 applicants were charged N1,000 each for the participating in the recruitment exercise.
The anti-graft agency also accused the defendants of flouting the Public Procurement Act, No. 65 of 2007 in the award of the contract for the organisation of the recruitment test to Drexel Tech Nigeria Ltd.
The EFCC said Drexel EFCC had no prior advertisement and no needs assessment and procurement plan was carried out before the contract was awarded.
According to the anti-graft agency, the contract was awarded through selective tendering procedure by invitation of 4 (Four) firms without seeking the approval of the Bureau for Public Procurement, contrary to sections 40, 42 and 43 of the Public Procurement Act, No. 65 of 2007 and punishable under section 58 of the same act.