No FG directive to return applicants’ money— Immigration

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The Federal Government may not refund the
N1,000 application fee that was paid by each of the
693,000 applicants that participated in the
Nigerian Immigration Service recruitment on March
15.

The FG had on Wednesday cancelled the
recruitment exercise, which claimed 18 applicants’
lives.

The Public Relations Officer of the NIS, Mr. Emeka
Obua, told SUNDAY PUNCH on Saturday that the
service had not received any directive on the
refund
of the money.

He said such a directive would come from the
Federal Government to the Minister of Interior, Mr.
Abba Moro.

Also, the Ministry of Interior said no directive had
been given to it from any quarters to refund the
money to applicants.

The Special Assistant to the Minister on Media, Mr.
George Ubong, in a telephone interview with one of
our correspondents, said no such directive had
been received in the ministry.

“We have not received any directive to refund any
money,” he stated.

Ubong also said the contracting firm, which
handled the exercise, had been registered with the
Ministry of Interior as a contractor long before the
appointment of Moro as minister.

He stated, “The man has been a contractor with
the ministry of interior before the advent of the
minister.
The minister doesn’t know him.”

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Labour Congress, the Trade
Union Congress and prominent lawyers have called
on the Federal Government to refund the N1000
paid
by each of the applicants.

The General-Secretary, NLC, Mr. Chris Uyot, in an
interview with one of our correspondents on
Saturday, described the conduct of the exercise as
“criminal.”

He said, “We support that (refund of the
application fees). Given the fact that the
government has cancelled the exercise, the money
should be refunded to the applicants.

“It is apparent that government needs to take
unemployment seriously. It looked like all they
were interested in was the applicants’ money
without providing adequate facilities. The issue of
employment must be seen as an emergency.”

In a separate interview with SUNDAY PUNCH, the
President, TUC, Mr. Bobboi Kaigama, also asked for
the refund of the money.

He said, “Since government has cancelled the
exercise, it should refund the money to the
applicants.”

Also, two prominent lawyers, Mr. Rotimi Jacob
(SAN) and Mr. Festus Keyamo, insisted the refund.
The two Economic and Financial Crimes
Commission lawyers questioned the propriety of
collecting money from job seekers.

Jacobs said, “It would be unfair to retain their
money and cancel the recruitment exercise. Is it
not abnormal to ask young graduates to pay
money before they can apply for jobs? They should
not be collecting money from them in the first
place.

“It is like the strong in the society victimising the
weak – the rich are collecting money from the poor.
That is very unfair. They should refund the money.”
Kayamo described the collection of the application
fees as
‘advance fee fraud.’

He said, “It was tantamount to stealing from job
seekers. They must return the money to them.
What happened amounted to stealing, it is nothing
but
advance fee fraud.”

But Prof. Itse Sagay noted that it was not necessary
to refund the fees.

In a telephone interview with one of our
correspondents, he said, “I don’t think that (refund
of application fees) is an important aspect.

“If I were the President, I would recover the money
from the immigration service and plough it back
into youth employment and things that could
better the lives of the youth, so that at the end of
the day, the youth will not lose out.”

Similarly, the All Progressives Congress on
Saturday said Moro and the consultants should
account for the
money collected from job seekers.

The Interim National Publicity Secretary of the
party, Mr. Lai Mohammed, said this in a telephone
interview with SUNDAY PUNCH.

He explained that it was possible that neither the
NIS nor its Comptroller-General, David Paradang,
could account for the N1,000 collected from the job
seekers because they did not collect the money.

Mohammed said “That is probably because the
money is not with them. Only the minister and the
consultant, we are informed, were responsible, and
they both should be held responsible for the refund
unless the money was paid into Immigration
account.”

Also, the Executive Secretary, Anti-Corruption
Network and former member of the House of
Representatives, Mr. Dino Melaye, described the
exercise as a complete fraud.

A legal practitioner, Mr. Bamidele Aturu, equally
said the money should be returned with interest
and “additional hazard allowance of N50,000.”

For the Executive Director of Women Advocates
Research and Documentation Centre, Dr. Abiola
Akiode-Afolabi, “The cancellation without refund
amounts to defrauding innocent citizens, it is
condemnable.”

Another legal practitioner, Mr. Ebun Olu-
Adegboruwa, said, “It is sad that helpless and
innocent Nigerians have to die, for the sake of
seeking employment.”

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