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Immigration tragedy: Families demand release of corpses

Parents and family members of some  applicants, who lost their lives during the Nigerian Immigration Service recruitment test on Saturday in Abuja, have demanded for the release of the bodies of their loved ones for burial.

The family members, who gathered at the National Hospital on Sunday, told the Minister of Interior, Abba Moro, who came to sympathise with them, that they wanted the bodies to be released for burial immediately.

Seven applicants, including a pregnant woman, died in a stampede during the exercise at the National Stadium, venue of the recruitment test.

Speaking with journalists, one of the bereaved, Mohammed Hakeem, said he was informed about the death of his sister, Miss Oyiza Yusuf, a mother of one, adding that it was disheartening that the lady was defrauded of N150,000 in a job scam last year.

Hakeem said, “It is sad that people were made to suffer and die for jobs that have probably been allocated to the children of highly placed individuals. The government should be sensitive to the plight of the ordinary Nigerians.”

Moro, who consoled the grieving families, pleaded for understanding of Nigerians “so that together we can salvage the situation and lay a foundation that will forestall any future occurrence of this type of tragedy.”

The minister explained that the tragedy was caused by unruly applicants. Those that did not apply for the exercise also turned up.

He explained that the stadium was chosen for the recruitment exercise on account of the physical exercise that applicants were to go through, stressing that this was a vital component of enlistment requirement into the NIS.

Moro said, “Right from the beginning, I gave you assurance that this exercise was going to be transparent but it was going to be cost-effective.  That we are going to avoid (the mistake of the past), where all persons converge in Abuja. And so yesterday, we tried to decentralise.

“We set up 37 recruitment centres across the country, including the Federal Capital Territory, and posted senior officers of the ministry, including Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps and the police across the country. All numbers were adequate to control the situation based on the received applications.”

Moro clarified that 526,650 persons applied for the exercise nationwide, adding that arrangement was made for only the number.

Sixteen persons were confirmed to have died during the nationwide job recruitment test organised by the NIS on Saturday.

The minister gave the confirmation during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Sunday  in Abuja.

Moro said that in Edo State, one female applicant collapsed at the venue of the exercise and was rushed to the hospital, where she died.

He said that in Jigawa State, a male applicant died in an accident on his way to the venue of the exercise, while in Niger, two  persons died as a result of the stampede.

He said that seven applicants in the FCT died also from the stampede, while in Rivers five persons died.

NAN reported that some applicants sustained injuries during the exercise, while some have being treated and discharged just as others were receiving treatment in various hospitals across the country.

As of the time of filing this report, the bodies of some of the participants had been identified by their families at the National Hospital in Abuja.

Mr. Mohammed Yekini, brother to one of the deceased, told NAN that  he was still waiting for the authorities of the hospital to release the corpse.

Yekini, who is also a lecturer at the Federal Polytechnic in Nassarawa State and hails from Okene in Kogi State, lamented the inhuman treatment participants were subjected to during the exercise.

He called on government to show more consideration to the plight of unemployed youths in the country.

Another job seeker who participated in the exercise, Mrs. Abigail Aroniya, whose brother is presently receiving treatment at the National Hospital, described the treatment they received during the exercise as inhuman.

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