-How N6 billion was stolen from applicants
Saturday, March 15, 2014, will forever remain a sad day for families whose relatives lost their lives in a stampede in some places across Nigeria where the Nigerian Immigrations Service (NIS) recruitment test held.
Teeming unemployed graduates had stormed Abuja National Stadium, National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos and other designated centres for the NIS test for an opportunity to be employed and get a secure tomorrow. But as they set out early that Saturday morning with dreams and aspirations, some of them never envisaged that it would be their last day on earth. At the last count, about 18 job seekers had died, while many more are still hospitalized due to varied degrees of injuries suffered. Official figure released by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) put the number of dead at seven and more than 40 injured.
37 centres were opened nationwide for the test, and below are areas where stampede occurred which resulted in the death of 18 persons and hundreds injured.
PLACES THE TESTS WERE CONDUCTED AND WHAT HAPPENED THERE
Abuja, the federal capital territory had the largest member of casualties. The Immigrations recruitment test held inside the 60,000 seater Abuja National Stadium. The venue was filled to capacity with overflow. Seven people were reported dead and over 40 injured due to the stampede at that centre.
In Niger State, the test held at Women Day Secondary School, Minna, Niger State and 11,000 participated out of which three applicants were reported dead and their bodies deposited at Minna General Hospital. The cause of the stampede of this centre was blamed on the security agencies who were firing tear gas to control the crowd that turned up for the test.
In Rivers State, 20,000 applicants were expected but 35,000 turned up at the Liberation Stadium, Port Harcourt venue. At least five (5) persons died in the stampede there including one pregnant woman who was said to have scaled through the fence of the stadium and hit her stomach on the ground. The incident was blamed on the unexpected number of applicants that surfaced at the test venue.
In Edo State, there were reports that three (3) pregnant woman died at the Benin City centre.
In llorin, Kwara State, 22,000 applicants set for the test inside the Sports Centre of the Universiy of IIorin. Nobody died at this centre.
In Lagos, there was a huge crowd at the National Stadium, Surulere centre. The stadium was filled to capacity with an overflow hanging around under the bridge opposite the stadium. Applicants who had arrived the venue around 7am were left beaming with anger when the test was cancelled in that centre due to inability of applicants to follow instructions from NIS officials.
15,000 applicants sat for the test in Kano State. The exercise took place inside the Sani Abacha Stadium, Kano.
At the Aper Aku Stadium, Makurdi, Benue State about 17,800 applicants sat for the test. The crowd was much but NIS accommodated all.
Because of the security situation in Borno State, applicants were transferred to Gombe. About 5,000 job seekers from the two states took part in the Abubakar Umar Memorial Stadium, Gombe. There was a stampede, at the entrance of the stadium.
In Enugu State, it took the timely intervention of the Nigeria Police Force, who prevented protesters from assaulting NIS officials in the state.
Applicants in their thousands had gathered at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu by 7am for the test but they became worried when the exercise did not commence by 2pm. They mobilized and marched down to the NIS office but the police put things in order.
The exercise went on smoothly at Fedral Government Girls College, Calabar, Cross River State. About 5,000 applicants sat for the test and by 5pm, the exercise was yet to come to a close. Many left the venue late in the night.
Tragedy was averted at the Obafemi Awolowo Stadium, Ibadan, Oyo State when a woman reportedly slumped due to exhaustion. She was revived. Over 22,500 applicants showed up for the test in that centre.
In Osun State, four people were said to have slumped due to exhaustion at St. Charles Grammar School, Osogbo.
There were over 6,000 applicants for the test at Samson Saisia Stadium, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State. The exercise was marred by problems of logistics and accreditation.
About 10 people fainted at Command Secondary School, Zaria Road venue of the test in Plateau State. The victims were revived at the emergency medical facility of the venue.
THE ISSUE OF WHITE TRAINING OUTFIT
Almost all those who turned out for the test wore white T-shirt, white shorts and training shoes. Applicants were directed to come to their various centres in training materials, not necessarily white for physical exercise which is one of the prerequisites for recruitment. At the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos many street hawkers made money selling white T-shirts to applicants, vendors who came to the centre with their vehicles even charge N100 for applicants who made use of their vehicles as changing spot.
WHAT THE MINISTER OF INTERIOR SAID
The Minister of Interior, Mr. Abba Moro blamed the unfortunate incidents on impatience on the side of applicants. “The applicants lost their lives due to impatience. They did not follow the laid down procedure spelt out before the exercise. Many of them jumped through the fences and didn’t conduct themselves in an orderly manner to make the exercise a smooth one. This caused stampede and made the environment unsecured.”
And trust Nigerians, they have faulted the minister’s reaction to the incident. Some of those who have spoken in condemnation of the statement argued that he (the minister) ought to have sympathized with the families of the deceased rather than blame them for the unfortunate incident.
HOW APPLICANTS REGISTERED FOR THE EXERCISE
Those who applied for the test paid a sum of N1,000 to designated banks where they were issued a pin number. The pin number allowed applicants access into the NIS website where they registered their particulars.
HOW MUCH NIGERIAN IMMIGRATION SERVICE MADE FROM THE EXERCISE
About N6 billion went into the purse of the Nigerian Immigration Service from the exercise. 6 million applicant reportedly applied online, and over a million were confirmed to have attended the recruitment test. Each of them paid N1,000 for registration.
Out of the 526,650 invited for the test, 4,556 would be recruited at the end of the day.
CALLING FOR THE HEAD OF NIS TOP SHOTS
Human right activists and senior citizens of Nigeria have called for the immediate removal of the Minister of Interior, Mr. Abba Moro, and the Controller General of Immigrations, Mr. David Shikfu Parradang.
Those in the forefront campaigning for the removal include Mr. Fola Adeola, Mrs. Ayo Obe, Mrs. Funke Adekoya, Dr. Aliyu Modibbo, Mrs. Maryam Uwais, Mr. Femi Edun, Alhaji Bashir Tofa and a host of others.
SURVIVORS RECOUNT ORDEAL
Those who survived the immigrations test stampede recounted their close shave with death at the centres where causalities were recorded.
One of the survivors from the Abuja centre narrated that she had actually passed out and taken alongside the dead for the Abuja National Hospital before she regained consciousness. Another one said she was saved by God’s grace. She said she was gasping for breath and had to find her way out of the crowd to get fresh air.
One of the dead person from the Abuja centre whose name was given as Mrs. Oyiza Yusuf died while trying to save her pregnant friend. She had lost her husband, a banker to a road accident after eight years of marriage. She later remarried and had a child. She had graduated in 2006 without a job until the NIS recruitment exercise where she thought of trying her luck but died in the stampede.
– FOLUSO SAMUEL