Paradang and Moro
President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday queried the Minister of Interior, Mr. Abba Moro; and the Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Immigration Service, Mr. David Paradang, over the loss of 18 lives during the NIS recruitment on Saturday.
The 18 died during stampedes at the venues of the NIS recruitment in different parts of the country. The deaths have generated national uproar.
The presidential query for the minister and the NIS CG came as the wife of the Senate President David Mark, Helen, denied reported relationship with the consultants than handled the exercise.
Mark’s wife, in a statement signed by the Special Adviser (Media) to the President of the Senate, Mr. Kola Ologbodiyan, said she was shocked by media reports of her involvement in the exercise. She said the reports were based on a rumour and “a mere fabrication of the imagination of those behind it.”
“I have no relationships of any sorts and in whatever form with the said consultant,” she said.
Both Moro and Paradang were on Monday summoned to the Presidential Villa, Abuja, to explain the circumstances that led to the incidents, which a presidency source said had portrayed the present administration in a bad light.
On arrival at the Villa, the two officials first met for about three hours with the Chief of Staff to the President, Brig.-Gen. Jones Arogbofa (retd.), in his office.
A source said they used the opportunity of the meeting with Arogbofa to marshal the arguments they would present before the President.
The CoS later led the minister and the NIS boss to meet the President for almost an hour.
He also led them out of the President’s office at about 2.30pm.
Neither Moro nor Paradang spoke to journalists after the session with the President.
Prior to the arrival of the minister and the NIS boss, Jonathan had met behind closed doors with the Inspector-General of Police, Muhammed Abubakar.
Another source in the Presidency said the meeting with Abubakar also centred on the tragedy that attended the NIS recruitment.
Also, President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday said his administration had commenced investigation into the circumstances that led to the stampedes that claimed 18 lives at the venues of the recruitment.
Jonathan said this in his preliminary remarks at the inauguration of the national conference held at the National Judicial Institute, Abuja.
He described the incident as a sad one coming at a time preparation was being made for the inauguration.
Jonathan thereafter called for a one-minute silence in honour of the victims of the stampede.
Meanwhile, the minister has rejected calls for him to step down after he blamed job seekers for their deaths in Saturday’s stampede.
Moro told the BBC that there had been “poor handling” of the event by officials, adding that those in the crowd should have been more patient.
He said his resignation “did not arise” until after an investigation.
Moro told the BBC’s Newsday programme that “unauthorised” people had broken through the fence into the National Stadium, Abuja, where the tests were being held, and caused the stampede.
Similar statements over the weekend had led to calls for him to resign.
Although he said he accepted responsibility for the incident as only one out of the numerous entrances to the stadium was opened at the time, he said he would not step down.
One of the applicants, Mohammed Yusuf, told the BBC that he saw two people crushed to death in front of him, saying it was “very terrible.”
He blamed the officials in charge of the stadium for the deaths, saying that more than one gate should have been opened.
But the Nigeria Labour Congress in a statement in Abuja on Monday by its president, Abdulwaheed Omar, said, “The explanation by the Minister of Interior, Abba Morro, that 520,000 applicants were invited for screening for 4,556 spaces and that the applicants died in a stampede due to impatience and non-adherence to laid-down orderly procedure, is rather weak and untenable.”
Omar wondered why 520,000 applicants were invited for screening for 4,556 spaces.
“To invite so many applicants for such few spaces, in all sense of administration, was a call to anarchy and highly irresponsible of the immigration service,” he said.
I couldn’t agree more with the labour congress’s stance on this issue. Like seriously, why will you sell out forms to 520,000 people for job vacancies under 5000? I heard the the applicants paid 1000 each, where is the money and who is accounting for it? What effort is being made to compensate the families of those who died during the stampede? A lot of heads ought to roll, for starters before even fully probing and attending to all the issues connected with this disaster.
May the souls of all those who died rest in peace, Amen.