Fifty five eminent Nigerians, including senior lawyers and politicians have asked President Goodluck Jonathan to sack Minister of Interior, Abba Moro; and the Controller –General of Immigration, David Shikfu Parradang over Saturday’s death of some job seekers across the country.
In a statement yesterday by the Chairman, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Dr Chidi Odinkalu, but jointly signed by the 55 eminent Nigerians, they blamed Moro and Parradang for the shoddy handling of the programme.
They urged the Attorney-General of the Federation and the Inspector-General of Police together with the Director-General of State Security Service, to launch a joint criminal investigation into the deaths of the job seekers.
They criticised the Minister’s reaction to the incident, arguing that he ought to sympathise with the families of the deceased rather than blame them for the unfortunate incident.
The statement reads: “On Saturday, 15 March 2014, hundreds of thousands of job-seekers attended job-seeking examinations organised by the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) in different centres in Nigeria to fill 4,556 vacancies. The NIS is supervised by the Ministry of the Interior.
“The Ministry and the NIS had compelled each job seeker, as an eligibility condition for participating in this hire process, to pay the sum of one thousand Naira (N1,000). There is no evidence that these sums were remitted to the Federation Account as required by law.
“In most places, these job-seeking examinations took place in stadia, suggesting that the organisers anticipated large turn outs. Inexplicably, they failed to make adequate or any arrangements for crowd management and control.
“At different centres around the country, including Abuja, Benin, Kano, Minna, and Port-Harcourt, many job-seekers, including pregnant mothers, were killed and lots more were injured in stampede caused by grossly negligent and uncaring ground arrangements.
“This tragedy was needless, foreseeable and avoidable. The failures of the Ministry of the Interior and NIS to adequately manage the process and safeguard the safety and security of the jobseekers is inexcusable.
“The deaths that resulted from these failures, therefore, were unlawful. If the lives of Nigerians mean anything, the leadership and management teams in the Ministry of the Interior and the NIS must be held to account for these deaths.
“In his reaction to the deaths, Minister of the Interior, Comrade Abba Moro, accused the victims of ‘impatience,’ claiming that the deaths resulted because ‘they did not follow the laid down procedures spelt out to them before the exercise.’
“The effort by the Minister responsible for citizenship in Nigeria to blame the victims rather than take responsibility shows a callous disregard for the lives of Nigerians incompatible with his high Ministerial brief. It brings public service into disrepute.
“In the circumstances, we the undersigned, as citizens of Nigeria, respectfully demand that:
•The Minister of the Interior, Comrade Abba Moro; and the Controller –General of Immigration, Mr. David Shikfu Parradang, be immediately relieved of their positions;
*The Honorable Attorney-General of the Federation and the Inspector-General of Police together with the Director-General of State Security, should launch a joint criminal investigation into the deaths of these jobseekers;
•An independent audit should immediately be instituted into the monies made by the Ministry and the NIS from the jobseekers and criminal investigations should be commenced as appropriate;
•Government should demonstrate a readiness to address the problem of youth unemployment as a national security priority through a partnership involving the agricultural sector, public sector, private sector, voluntary sector, and multi-laterals.
“To the families across the country bereaved as a result of these and other on going challenges in our country, we take this opportunity to transmit heartfelt condolences and pray for the peaceful repose of the souls of our deceased brothers and sisters.”
The statement was signed by Alhaji Bashir Othman Tofa, Dr. Ayesha Imam, Dr. Jibrin Ibrahim, Dr. Ishiyaku Mohammed, Dr. Chidi Anselm Odinkalu, Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi and Dr. Hussaini Abdu.
Others are Mr. Femi Edun, Dr. Abubakar Siddique Mohammed; Mal. Abba Kyari, Dr. Kole Shettima, Mrs. Maryam Uwais, Prof. Ebere Onwudiwe, Mal. Nasir Ahmed El-Rufai, Hon. Yusuf Tuggar, Mr. Yemi Candide-Johnson, SAN; Alhaji Tajudeen Fola Adeola, Waziri Adio, Alhaji Bashir Yusuf Ibrahim, Iniruo Wills, Mrs. Ayo Obe, Yunusa Yau; Nasir Ladan; Dr. Jeremy Weate, Prof. Nsongurua Udombana, Dr. Charmaine Perreira; Saka Azimazi, Dr. Bibi Bakare-Yusuf, Mrs. Funke Adekoya, SAN, Jibrin Okutepa, SAN, Chief Ziggy Azike, KSC, Roland Ewubare; Mrs. Stella Ugboma, Prof. Ernest Ojukwu; Chukwuma Odelugo, Dr. Solomon Ebobrah, Afolabi Kuti, Mrs. Victoria Ibezim-Ohiaeri; Ms. Seember Nyagher, Dr. Joan Oviawe, Ikeazor Akaraiwe, Auwal Musa (Rafsanjani); Doueyi Fiderekumo, Dakorim Boma Odunuga, Alaezi Nmezi, Dele Aloko; Mrs. Ozioma Izuora, Ms. Lola Shoneyin, Mal. Bilya Bala; Dr. Aliyu Modibbo, Uba Saidu Malami; Obinna Anaba, Ms. Wumi Asubiaro, Alhaji Suleiman Adamu and Mr. Obi Akaraiwe