Only 526, 650 Nigerians applied for appointment into the Nigeria Immigration Service, the Minister of Interior; Comrade Abba Moro has revealed on Sunday.
Seven people were killed and 40 injured on Saturday in a stampede that ensued at the entrance gate of the Abuja National Stadium, venue for Nigeria Immigration Service aptitude test and physical examination for applicants into the Service who chose the Federal Capital Territory as their Centre.
The Minister, while speaking with journalists on Sunday after he visited the Abuja National Stadium and the National Hospital where victims of the Abuja stampede were being treated, said the insinuation that above 3millions applied for the job was wrong.
He said majority of people who turned out for the test didn't apply for the job. "Let me make it very clear for the umpteenth time, one million, three million didn't apply for this exercise. I said it and I repeat myself; the records are there for everybody to see, five hundred and twenty-six thousand, six hundred and fifty people applied for this exercise.
"Unfortunately, from the information that is available, people who didn't apply, people who were not shortlisted for these exercise, turned up yesterday including pregnant women to undertake this exercise. It is very unfortunate," Com. Moro lamented.
He said text messages were sent to those people who applied and were qualified to go to the centre that they chose in the application they made.
While condoling with the families of the deceased and wounded, the Minister noted that the Ministry did all it could to make the process of gaining appointment into the Service less cumbersome and was in shock with yesterday's tragedy.
"Naturally, you should expect that when a thing of this magnitude occurs, emotions definitely will rise. And in the circumstances of confusion where even family members don't know whether their guardian and siblings where involved, certainly a lot of confusion will set in but that confusion has settled down now.
"Let me say that everything that was required to do to conduct a hitch-free exercise yesterday was done by the Ministry of Interior and Nigeria Immigration Service. Right from the beginning, I took an undertaking to ensure that this exercise was going to be transparent, was going to be cost effective and that we are going to avoid the mistakes of the past where all persons converged on Abuja and we had stampede and deaths occurred.
"Yesterday, we tried to decentralize. We set up 37 recruitment centre across the country including FCT and posted senior officers of the Ministry and the Nigeria Immigration Service, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps and the Police across the country and all numbers were adequate to contain the situation based on the receipt of application," he explained.
The Minister stressed that: "The arrangement made was to accommodate these persons in the various centres and we chose the stadia in all the states including Abuja because it was going to involve physical exercises that are a very vital component to any enlistment into the Nigeria Immigration Service."
FG to set up panel
He disclosed that the Federal Government would set up an investigative panel to look into the remote and immediate causes of the stampede in Abuja and other four centres in the country.
Moro said the committee would unravel what triggered the stampede and advise the government what its next step should be, concerning the victims and the recruitment process itself.
While acknowledging that the stampede was a national tragedy, the Minister pleaded with Nigerians to exhibit understanding in salvaging the situation.
He hinted that the recruitment process maybe aborted, depending on the report of the panel of inquiry to be set up.