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Immigration Jobs Tragedy: President Warns Ministers, Cancels NIS Recruitment

President Goodluck Jonathan
President Goodluck Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday read the Riot Act to ministers and heads of government departments and agencies to desist from organising fatal exercises similar to the one conducted by the Nigeria Immigration Service on Saturday, under the guise of recruiting staff.

The President said any sloppy minister, whose carelessness caused the death of citizens, would henceforth be arrested and prosecuted for manslaughter.

Jonathan reportedly issued the threat during the Federal Executive Council meeting in Abuja. Sources at the meeting said discussion centred mainly on the tragic NIS recruitment during which 19 applicants died.

One of the sources told our correspondent that the President spoke after he had asked the embattled Minister of Interior, Mr. Abba Moro, to brief the council on the circumstances that led to the death of the applicants.

The source said that while Jonathan was silent on whether Moro was culpable and would be punished or not, he warned that all government officials must ensure that such unfortunate incident did not occur again in the country.

“The council meeting was devoted to the tragedy. The President started by asking the Minister of Interior to brief the council on the circumstances that led to the incident. The visibly angry President thereafter warned ministers and the heads of departments and agencies that he would henceforth order that any of them who conducted such a fatal exercise be arrested and tried for manslaughter,” the source said.

The President had reportedly queried Moro and the Comptroller-General of the NIS, Mr. David Parradang, on Monday, asking for an explanation over the Saturday’s incident when 19 potential recruits to the NIS died in the stampede that occurred at the overcrowded venues of the screening across the country.

Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, confirmed to State House correspondents that the meeting was devoted to the tragedy.

Maku said the President directed that three employment slots be reserved for the families of those who died during the exercise nationwide. He said one of the three beneficiaries must be a female.

The minister added that Jonathan also directed that all those who sustained injuries and were receiving treatment in hospitals be given automatic employment in the immigration service.

Maku said the President also ordered the cancellation of the ill-fated exercise and set up a committee to be headed by the Chairman of the Federal Civil Service Commission, Mrs. Joan Ayo, to conduct a fresh exercise.

Members of the committee, according to the information minister, are the Comptroller-General of NIS, Mr. David Paradang; a representative of the Inspector-General of Police; the Commandant-General of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps; Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Prisons Service; the Director-General of the State Security Service; and the Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Commission.

Maku did not answer questions on the fate of Moro and on whether applicants’ N1, 000 registration fee would be refunded.

“I have only told you what the President announced during the council meeting,” he responded to further enquiries on Jonathan’s directives.

He however confirmed that Jonathan had instructed MDAs to desist from organising sloppy exercises as did the NIS in order to avert a similar tragedy.

Maku said, “The President has also directed that as soon as he returns from his trip abroad he will meet the families of the deceased to express his personal condolences to them over the sad tragedy that took place on Saturday.

“He instructed all MDAs never to embark on an exercise of this nature in recruiting people into the public service because what happened could have been avoided. So, Mr. President directed that no one outside the armed forces and the police, who usually recruit people through such an exercise, that no other MDA is allowed to embark on this kind of exercise that we witnessed on Saturday.

“All of us expressed our regrets about what happened; our hearts go out there to the families of the deceased. This nation is fully behind them, the grief is not their own, the grief is that of all Nigerians and is the grief of the government and the people of Nigeria. “We regret it and we pray for the repose of the souls of those who have departed.

“Council noted that it is regrettable that this took place at a time that every effort was being made by government to increase spaces available for employment. For example last year, we were able to get 1.6 million employed in the various sectors of the economy and the public service.

“However, the incident that took place is so painful and we will not want to see in this country young job seekers losing their lives in the process of seeking for jobs after school training.”

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