Jonathan Cancels Fatal Recruitment Exercise

President Goodluck Jonathan has cancelled last Saturday’s recruitment by the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), which turned tragic when over 16 job seekers died in stampedes at various centres nationwide.
He directed the conduct of a fresh employment process that will be supervised by a special committee headed by the Chairman of the Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC), Mrs. Joan Ayo, to fill the vacancies in the NIS.
Also, in a bid to appease the families of the deceased applicants and those injured during the exercise, the president has ordered that they should be given preferential treatment in the recruitment process.
Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, told State House reporters yesterday in Abuja after the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) that Jonathan had ordered that each of the family of the deceased persons should be allowed to produce candidates to fill three vacancies in the immigration service, while the injured should be given automatic employment.
One of the candidates to be produced by each of the deceased families must be a female, he added.
The concessions to the deceased families and the injured taken at the FEC meeting, which barely lasted for an hour, came amid rising criticism over the conduct of the recruitment exercise and calls for the sack of the Minister of Interior, Mr. Aba Moro, and Comptroller-General of the NIS, Mr. David Parradang.
Maku further announced that other members of the special committee raised by the president to supervise the fresh recruitment into the NIS included Parradang, as well as representatives of the Inspector General of Police (IG), Comptroller of the Nigerian Prison Service (NPS), Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), and the Commandant General of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).
The minister said Jonathan directed that except for the recruitment carried out by the armed forces, no other agency of government should again engage in a recruitment process such as the type by the NIS that resulted in a tragedy.
According to him, the entire proceedings of yesterday’s FEC meeting were dedicated to condoling with the families of the deceased.
“FEC noted with grief and deep regrets the tragedy of those who died in the ill-fated immigration exercise. FEC, in sending condolences to the families of the deceased and also in sending special wishes to those who were injured and are receiving treatment in various hospitals in different parts of the country, expressed total regrets that this tragedy took place at all.
“Council members were full of grief. When the issue was discussed. We expressed our condolences to the president and the vice-president, and we indeed reassured Nigerians that all of us who have the privilege of serving this nation at this time are feeling the pains of the families and our young ones who lost their lives.
“We reaffirmed our commitment to ensuring that this kind of tragedy does not repeat itself in this country,” Maku said.
He added that Jonathan would meet with families of the deceased to express his condolences as soon as he returns from his trip abroad.
“He (president) instructed all ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), henceforth, never to embark on any exercise of this nature in recruiting people into the public service, because what happened could have been avoided altogether.
“He has directed that henceforth no one outside the army, police, who usually recruit people through physical exercise, is allowed to embark on the type of exercise that we witnessed on Saturday. No other MDA or department of government is allowed to do that again.
“Our hearts go out to the families of the deceased; this nation is fully behind them. The grief is not their own alone, the grief is the grief of all Nigerians and the grief is the grief of the government and the people of Nigeria. We regret it and pray for the souls of those who have departed,” he stated.
Speaking further on the proceedings at the FEC meeting, Maku said the council noted that “it is regrettable that this took place at a time when every effort was been 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 this incident is so painful to all of us and we will not want to see in this country young job seekers looking for jobs and losing their lives in the process.
“We assure the nation today that every step will be taken to look into the various lapses in recruitment exercises into the public service to be sure that all those who are qualified get access into the public service without going through this kind of experience.”
Meanwhile, the management of the National Hospital, Abuja has said it is yet to release six corpses of those who died during the immigration recruitment stampede in Abuja, because it wants to verify the identity of the victims’ relations.
Seven bodies were deposited at the National Hospital mortuary on Saturday after the unfortunate event at the National Stadium.
The hospital’s spokesman, Dr. Tayo Haastrup, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), that out of the seven bodies brought to the hospital, only one had been properly identified and released to the relatives.
“It is not that people have not come to claim the corpses but we need to ensure that we release the bodies to the right persons after proper identification,” he said.
Moro who visited the hospital on Sunday, had told the hospital authority that the police must authenticate any claim by relatives of the deceased before the bodies are released to them.
Haastrup, who also corroborated this, said two women were still in the hospital recuperating, out of the 11 people admitted.
He said they would be discharged as soon as they were certified fit.
However, the fallout from the recruitment tragedy continued to reverberate yesterday when the House of Representatives’ Committee on Public Accounts stepped up its scrutiny of the incident by inviting Moro to appear before it to give an account of the money realised from the sale of employment forms.
This is as the board of the NIS, NSCDC, the prisons service and the Fire Service indicted the minister over the botched recruitment exercise, of which it said it had no prior knowledge.
A commissioner on the board, Mr. S.D Tapgun, told the committee that the board, whose members and heads of agencies he led to the House, gave no approval for the failed exercise.
“Only the Interior Minister and the consultant he engaged for the exercise can tell Nigerians exactly what happened. Even the Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Immigration Service was not involved; he was not part of the recruitment at all. There was no board resolution to recruit any body,” he said.
“When we the members of the board learnt about the recruitment exercise, we wrote the minister and informed him that we were not in support of engaging the services of a third party to conduct recruitment for the immigration service but he ignored our letter and went ahead to engage the consultant named Drexel Technical Global Nigeria Limited.
“The consultant fixed every thing including a N1,000 fee which they claimed was to cover administrative charges,” he added.
According to the board, the number of applicants registered totalled 693,000 and each of them paid N1,000  to designated banks through the consultant.
Summoning both Moro and the consultant, chairman of the committee, Adeola Solomon Olamilekan, said: “This is fraud; Nigerians, our children have been defrauded to the tune of almost a billion naira, the minister and the consultant must inform Nigerians how much was collected, the banks where the money is being kept, and the account numbers, among other information.”

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