The Comptroller-General of Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), David Parradang, has finally been relieved of his appointment.
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday in Abuja issued the suspension order on the controversial Immigration boss, while the Deputy Comptroller-general, Martin Abeshi, stepped in.
The service had registered over 700,000 job applicants online for less than 20,000 placements through an agency commissioned by the Ministry of Interior. The agency extorted N1,000 from each applicant for what it called registration fee.It was not immediately clear what informed Buhari’s decision to sanction Parradang, but he had been in the eye of the storm since March 2014 when the service conducted an ill-fated job recruitment exercise that caused the death of about 20 applicants.
Despite raising almost N1 billion, logistics for the job interview was both dismal and chaotic, resulting in the stampede that caused the deaths of some of the applicants at the various centres.
The tragedy sparked national outrage as Nigerians roundly condemned Parradang for the decision to register almost one million people when the vacancies in the service were less than 20,000, and also imposing fees on the desperate youths that were prospecting for job.
Parradang had denied any role in the appointment of the recruitment agency, saying that Abba Moro, the then minister of interior, handled the deal.
Nigerians called on former President Goodluck Jonathan to sanction Moro and Parradang. As a palliative, however, the government had directed that the money collected from all applicants as registration fee be refunded while five members from the family of each of the deceased applicants should be given automatic employment in the service. Government further directed a repeat of the recruitment interview.
The outrage forced the 7th Senate under the leadership of Senator David Mark to launch an investigation into the tragedy, but it all ended without a report till the end of the Jonathan administration.
March 2014 Tragedy
Thousands of job applicants were trapped in stampedes at different venues for the Nigeria Immigration Service recruitment test in Kano, Benue and Gombe States.
No fewer than 15,000 people participated in the recruitment exercise in Kano State.
The NIS Comptroller in the state, Zitas Nanpon, gave the figure in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Kano.
The screening and examination took place at the Sani Abacha Stadium, located in Kofar Mata in Kano metropolis.
Speaking with newsmen before the stampede, Nanpon said: “Right now, not less than 15, 000 applicants are on ground and more are still coming into the venue. The standard is that everybody that has an acknowledgement slip is eligible for this exercise,’’ he said.
Mr. Nanpon, however, commended the state government for providing the venue, which he said had enough space to accommodate all the candidates.
He assured the applicants that the examination would be conducted after the screening, advising all the applicants to be patient and orderly to ensure that the exercise was hitch-free.
In Benue no fewer than 17, 800 applicants took part in the exercise at the Aper Aku Stadium, Makurdi.
The Public Relations Officer of the service in Benue, Tersoo Ukeyima, had declared in Makurdi that the NIS was overwhelmed by the number of applicants and did its best to accommodate them.
Mr. Ukeyima said there were challenges in crowd management, but commended officers for discharging their duties in controlling the crowd.
He said no casualties were recorded and assured that the First Aid Department of the command was on hand to tackle any eventuality.
Some of the applicants, who spoke to NAN, commended the officers for the orderly conduct of the exercise, saying they were satisfied.
In Gombe, 5,000 candidates from Gombe and Borno took part in the exercise at Abubakar Umar Memorial Stadium, Gombe.
NAN learnt that applicants from Borno were deployed to Gombe as a result of the security challenge in that state.
The NIS Comptroller in Gombe, Y. G Emmanuel, said: “as you can see the exercise is going on and we have been here since 3 a.m. to ensure everything is in order for a smooth exercise.’’
A major tragedy was averted at the Obafemi Awolowo Stadium centre of the aptitude test in Ibadan, Oyo State capital, when a woman slumped during a stampede, while two others given emergency treatment for exhaustion.
More than 22,500 registered applicants were present at the venue.The woman who slumped during the stampede could not be identified while it took officials of the Oyo State Ambulance Service about 20 minutes to revive her.
At least, four applicants slumped at St. Charles’ Grammar School, Osogbo, venue of the recruitment exercise.
The applicants slumped due to exhaustion.
Thousands of the applicants had arrived at the venue as early as 6:30am to sit for the examination but the first batch did not sit for the test until around 3:30pm.
The state Comptroller, NIS, Stella Onwaduegbo’s intervention prevented a protest by some applicants from degenerating. Some of them were angry that some applicants who came late were given preference over those who came early.
About 6,000 applicants sat the recruitment examination of the Samson Siasia Stadium venue of the exams.
It was learnt that problems of logistics and accreditation were responsible for the delay.
About 10 people fainted during the exercise in Jos, Plateau State capital.
More than 30,000 job seekers sat the examination at the Command Secondary School along Zaria Road.
Although no death was recorded, those who fainted where revived by the emergency medical team provided for the exercise.
Stampede And Deaths
However, a surging crowd at the recruitment centre in Minna had led to the death of two applicants.
In Abuja, recruitment, at least seven job seekers died at the Abuja National Stadium while scrambling to secure seats for the recruitment test. Four deaths were reported in Port Harcourt.
The death in Minna brings to 13 the number of casualties in Immigration recruitment stampede across the country.
Two applicants slumped and died at the recruitment venue in Minna where over 12,000 applicants from the state converged for recruitment into the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS).
Niger State Commissioner for Health, Ibrahim Sule, confirmed the death of the two applicants in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
“One female applicant was reported dead on arrival at the hospital and the male applicant died of injuries sustained from the stampede while on admission at Minna General Hospital,” he said.
Sule said four other male applicants were treated for their injuries and discharged, while seven females were placed under observation after receiving treatment at the hospital.
He said the Immigration Service did not liaise with the government on the recruitment exercise given the large number of applicants expected.
Officials of the Immigration Service declined to comment on the death.
NAN reports that the Government Girls Day Secondary School, Minna, venue of the exercise was packed full with the applicants who besieged the place as early as 7a.m.
Immigration officers had a hard time managing the crowd who formed long queues armed with their notification slips.
An applicant who gave his name as Mohammed told NAN that unruly behaviour of some of the applicants led to the stampede, causing the deaths.
“The pushing and shoving at the venue entrance by some unruly applicants led to the stampede resulting in injuries to some applicants, who were rushed to the hospital,” he said.
The Immigration recruitment held across Nigeria with several reports of deaths and stampede from different states. Advertised positions were for university graduates, diploma holders and Senior Secondary School Certificate holders.
Meanwhile, 10,000 applicants took part in the exercise in Sokoto State, according to Yunusa Aliyu, the Comptroller of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Sokoto Command.
“We have made adequate arrangements to ensure sanity during the screening and the writing of the one-hour examination later today,” he said. ““So far so good we have not recorded any stampede or any security problems.”
“It will be conducted successfully as we have started by the special grace of God,” Mr. Aliyu, added.