Good News:- Jonathan Orders Moro To Refund N1,000 Fee To Immigration Job Seekers

President Goodluck Jonathan has reportedly
ordered embattled Minister of Interior, Abba Moro,
to refund the N1,000 application fee collected from
job seekers who were to write the ill fated Nigerian
Immigration Service (NIS) aptitude test that turned
sour at the weekend.
Scores of youths lost their lives in a stampede in
Abuja and several other cities, including pregnant
women, when they presented themselves for the
screening exercise organised by the NIS.
The President had on Monday summoned both the
minister and Comptroller General of the NIS, David
Paradang, apparently to explain their roles in the
recruitment tragedy.
On its part, the House of Representatives ordered
investigation into the death of about 20 applicants
at some venues of the NIS recruitment exercise.
The House joint Committee on Interior, Labour and
Productivity, Public Service Matters, and Justice
was mandated to organise an investigative public
hearing on the matter, and report back its findings
within four weeks.
Senate similarly mandated its Committee on
Interior to investigate the recruitment tragedy.
The resolution of the House was a fall-out of a
motion at Tuesday plenary under Matters of Urgent
Public Importance by a member, Karimi Sunday,
who expressed concerns on the manner the
exercise was conducted, leading to the death of
innocent job seekers.
The House while condemning the tragedy, further
called on the Federal Government to take steps
towards identifying relatives of the deceased
victims, and offer them automatic employments,
since in members’ opinion, the victims died in
active service to the nation.
The House also commiserated with the families of
the deceased, as well as empathise with those who
suffered injuries as a result of the exercise.
It resolved that henceforth, all mass recruitment
exercises into Federal Government agencies must
be done via the internet, and in more conducive
environment than that of last Saturday.
The NIS had last September advertised vacancies
for recruitment into various positions in its service.
Several thousands of job seekers responded,
culminating in the weekend’s massive turn out for
the aptitude test the NIS organised across Nigeria.
Official information available was that only 4,500
vacancies across board existed in the Immigration
Service.
But Sunday, while leading debate on the motion,
lamented that “in Lagos alone, about 70,000
youths showed up at the stadium for the test. In
Ibadan, the Liberty Stadium played host to about
20,000 Nigerian youths.
“In Abuja, the 60,000 capacity National Stadium
was overcrowded with 70,000 youths. In Ilorin,
25,000 candidates showed up like a sea of heads at
the llorin Stadium.
“In Benin, at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium,
26,000 Nigerian youths trooped in, all in a bid to
write the aptitude test. The Sani Abacha Stadium
in Kano played host to 15,800 youths.
“In Benue State 17,800 youths took part in the
exercise and in Port Harcourt, about 23,000
candidates enrolled for the recruitment exercise,”
the lawmaker added.
He argued further that “despite the crises and
insecurity in the North East, Gombe and Borno
states played host to about 5,000 applicants each,
while in Sokoto State 10,000 applicants
participated in the recruitment exercise.
“This was the same trend in other state capitals on
the said date.”
He also said it was baffling that even when
applicants were requested to come to the test
centres in sport outfits, there was no record of
physical test conducted, and that “only about 20
per cent of the candidates were able to participate
in recruitment process as a result of its poor
organisation”.
Sunday said the large turnout and poor
organisation resulted in chaos and stampede in all
the centres, recalling that “at least about 21
deaths were reported from the exercise”, including
pregnant women.
He also raised questions that the high response to
the advertisement and the fact that the Nigerian
Immigration Service may have realised
approximately N1 billion from the sale of
recruitment forms.
“Why then could the Service not properly organise
a recruitment test or programme? Why did the
Service not conduct an internet based recruitment
tests?
“Why could the aptitude test not have been
conducted in conducive educational centres in
batches all over the nation? Why was it so poorly
co-ordinated that it resulted in the death of
innocent and helpless Nigerians?”
The House unanimously adopted the suggestion by
the lawmaker that the Federal Government work in
conjunction with the state and local governments
and public spirited individuals and organisations,
including religious groups, to evolve a job creation
scheme that will best address the unemployment
situation in Nigeria.
Several members who spoke took turns to
condemn the loss of lives, especially that the
victims were Nigerians innocently seeking jobs.
According to Abike Dabiri-Erewa, the Minister of
Interior, Abba Moro, must take responsibility for
the incidents, while steps are taken to ensure that
the consultant who handled the exercise refunds
all monies collected from applicants, and the
families of victims duly compensated.
Also in his submissions, Bitrus Kaze expressed
concerns that there were reports that members of
the National Assembly were allocated slots in the
ongoing recruitment process, a development he
denied having knowledge of.
Peter Akpatason on the other hand described the
incident as a fall-out of long existing systemic
decay in Nigeria, and that it was an act of criminal
negligence of duty which should be punished.
He also argued that the unusual turnout could be
attributed to attempts at covering “up some
certain things” which the investigation must seek
to uncover.
However, a member of the House who was one
time Speaker of the Plateau State House of
Assembly, Emmanuel Go’ar, at a news conference
in Jos accused those calling for the heads of the
Interior Minister, Abba Moro, and Comptroller
General of Immigration, David Paradang, over the
recruitment tragedy of doing so to serve selfish
purpose.
He said it is the responsibility of all to fight the
unemployment monster that has brought the
country to the current situation.
Go’ar called on the Federal Government to
constitute a panel to unearth the causes of the
tragedy.
Go’ar who is representing Pankshin, Kanke and
Kanam Federal Constituency, said “what happened
at the Nigeria Immigration Service aptitude test
last Saturday is an eye opener”.
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) also
promised to investigate the circumstances that
lead to the death of job seekers at the NIS
screening centres.
The commission expressed concern over what it
called “avoidable death of about 20 persons who
participated in the exercise”.
The NHRC charged organisations in the country to
ensure that the human rights of Nigerians were
taken seriously in their work to avoid such incident
in future.
Executive Secretary of the NHRC, Bem Angwe,
spoke on this indication in Abuja when he received
in audience members of Citizens Advocacy for
Social and Economic Rights who came to lodge
their complaint against the NIS with regard to the
ill fated recruitment exercise.
At its own plenary, the Senate also asked the
executive arm of government to work out a
Marshall plan to tackle the intractable and
increasing unemployment menace in the country.
Like the House, the Senate also condoled with the
families of those who lost their lives in the
stampede.
The Senate resolution followed a motion of Urgent
Public Importance brought by Chairman of the
Senate Committee on Interior, Atiku Bagudu,
together with 10 other.
The motion was entitled, ‘Nigerian Immigration
Service Nationwide Aptitude Test and Physical
Examination of March 15, 2014’.
Bagudu who also led the debate on the motion,
reminded the Senate of the recruitment exercise
and noted that the Head of Service of the
Federation had in 2011 granted approval for the
recruitment of 4,556 personnel of various cadre for
the Immigration Service.
The lawmaker said 700,772 reportedly applied for
the NIS jobs, with about 70, 000 applicants
registered at the Abuja test centre.
He said the exercise was held under the
coordination of the Comptrollers of Immigration in
the states and the FCT, with one representative of
the Board in each centre.
Bagudu, however, regretted that the exercise
resulted in the loss of lives and several injuries.
In his one contribution, Ita Enang urged the Federal
Government to declare a state of emergency on
employment.
He lamented that “in the last five to eight years,
only the para-military organisations are offering
employment, as the manufacturing industries offer
little or no employment to Nigerians”.
Also, Ayogu Eze (Enugu-PDP) called for the
cancellation of the controversial recruitment
exercise, and punishment of those involved in its
management.
Gbenga Obadara (Ogun-APC) described the NIS
incident as a national tragedy.
He lamented that unemployment was killing
Nigeria as a country.
Sani Gumba (Bauchi-PDP) blamed the Ministry of
Interior and the NIS for the poor handling of the
exercise, stating that they ought to have grouped
the applicants in batches to avoid the stampede
that occurred as a result of the congestion of the
centres.
The Senate Caucus of the All Progressive Congress
(APC) also urged President Goodluck Jonathan to
sack Abba Moro as Minister of Interior.
In a statement,Senate APC Caucus spokesman,
Babafemi Ojudu, also called on the Federal
Government to declare a state of emergency on
employment in Nigeria.

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