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Immigration: Minister describes stampede as 'national tragedy'

17 March 2014, 11:19

Abuja - The Minister of Interior, Abba Moro, has described Saturday’s stampede at some Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) recruitment centres, that claimed lives of some Nigerians, as "unfortunate and a national tragedy."

The minister spoke on Sunday in Abuja, when he addressed newsmen after he visited the Abuja National Stadium, where seven persons died.

Moro, described the incident as "unfortunate and a national tragedy," adding that this was not the time to apportion blame.

According to the minister, Nigerians should show some understanding, while the incidence is being investigated by the government.

He said it was unfortunate that persons, who were not called for the exercise and some who were not fit to partake, came, and created problems for the ministry.

“The situation we have found here is very unfortunate, because if you look at the gate of the stadium and the surroundings, it is a clear indication that some people had the intention to break into the stadium forcefully.

“In the process people were trampled upon and unfortunately some persons lost their lives.

“This is an exercise that was organised primarily to forestall this kind of incidence that we have seen today” he said.

He noted that in previous recruitments, participants converging only in the FCT, which caused chaos hence the exercise was decentralised.

He said the ministry had chosen to use stadia as examination centres in order to contain participants and allow for physical exercise; which was a basic component of the recruitment process.

He said that adequate security was provided to maintain orderliness in all 37 centres across the country.

“Unfortunately the preliminary information available to me, shows that people who did not apply for the exercise tried to cash in on the openness of the exercise.

“Several unauthorised persons came in here, especially pregnant women; and in a paramilitary examination that involves physical exercise, I am surprised that a pregnant woman will come to partake," Moro said.

The minister said that a committee would be set up on Monday, March 17, to look critically at the situation.

 The minister expressed his condolences to the families of the victims who died or were injured during the exercise.

Over 500 000 persons applied for the vacant positions, while no fewer than 16 persons lost their lives nationwide as a result of the stampede, while many sustained injuries.

 - NAN

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