The Minister of Interior, Abba Moro, has denied responsibility for the deaths of about 16 job applicants at Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) recruitment centres across the country on March 15, 2014, Saturday.
Casualties among the applicants were reported in Abuja, Port Harcourt and Minna. A total of 16 people feared across Nigeria dead, but unconfirmed reports say the death toll may be even higher.
However, in his speech in the capital city of Plateau State, Jos, Mr Moro told the newsmen that the applicants should blame their “impatience” for the stampede and the deaths.
He also noted that the applicants refused to follow instructions handed to them by the recruiters.
The minister said that about 520,000 people registered for the recruitment exams, and that only 4,556 would be recruited at the end of the exercise based on the available vacancies.
The registration fee was N1,000, despite several directives from the House of Reps that government agencies should not collect charges from job applicants.
The NIS had declared vacancies for about 5,000 personnel across the country and engaged the services of an ICT firm, Drexel, to create an online registration platform through which money was extorted from applicants.
Drexel, however, came up with a complex registration process which required the applicants to download forms at cyber café, fill a part of it to generate a slip referred to as “Pay4me.”
It was the “Pay4me” print out that qualified applicants to pay the sum of N1,000 to dedicated NIS accounts in designated banks all over the country.
The commercial banks that were involved in the transaction included the United Bank for Africa, UBA, Fidelity Bank Plc, Zenith Bank Plc, Diamond Bank Plc and Ecobank Transnational Plc.
On the payment of N1,000, a teller was issued with data including candidates’ validation number, transaction number, application number and application type, among others.
The teller was again taken to cyber cafés where candidates used some of the information on it to complete the registration process and get acknowledgement slips.
However, several thousands of jobless Nigerians paid to grab the about 5,000 job opportunities advertised by the NIS.
“They did not make any plans for the applicants. Even during the test, we had to fight and hustle for the question papers. A lot of the papers were torn.
“We paid N1, 000 during the application process and I can tell you now that it’s a total fraud,” one of the applicants who spoke to Premium Times on conditions of anonymity said.
The Peoples Democratic Party mourned that deaths of job seekers, called for immediate investigation of the stampede.