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Union urges minister to resign over deadly stampede

17 March 2014, 21:46

Lagos - A labour union on Monday staged a protest over a deadly weekend stampede at a recruitment drive and demanded the interior minister's resignation.

At least seven job-seekers were killed when a stampede broke out on Saturday at the national stadium in the capital Abuja, where tens of thousands turned up for a National Immigration Service (NIS) recruitment test.

Some media reports put the death toll at 20.

"We need a commitment that NIS will stop this serial killing of Nigerians," Nigeria Labour Congress deputy chairman Issa Aremu told protesters in front of the NIS offices in the city of Kaduna, north of Abuja.

He called for the resignation of Interior Minister Abba Moro, who on public television Monday confirmed that five women were among the seven dead and admitted the deaths were the result of "poor management of crowds".

"The most honourable thing for him is to resign," Aremu said, to cheers from the crowd.

Some reports said that more than half a million young graduates had applied nationwide for the NIS' 4,600 vacancies.

Witnesses in Abuja said the stampede broke out as applicants surged towards a central stage. They said only one entrance to the 60,000-capacity stadium was open.

The sheer size of the crowds was a testament to the vast numbers of unemployed in Nigeria, most of whose 170 million citizens live on less than two dollars a day.

An estimated 37.5 percent of under-25s are out of work, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project said on Monday it had sent a petition to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, requesting him to "publicly condemn" and refer the case to a UN rights body.

"The unlawful deaths and inhuman and degrading treatment of the job-seekers constitute violations of their rights to life, dignity and work," said SERAP, a leading Nigerian rights group.



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