The House of Representatives on Tuesday summoned the Minister of Interior, Mr. Abba Moro, and the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Mr. Shikfu Parradang, to explain why 21 young Nigerians died on Saturday in their bid to be enlisted in the NIS.
Moro and the CG are to appear before the Joint Committee on Labour, Employment, Productivity/Justice/Public Service Matters, which will conduct a public hearing on the tragedy.
The hearing will be concluded within two weeks.
The House also resolved that the Federal Government should identify the families of the dead victims and offer their members “automatic employment”.
The decisions of the House followed a motion moved by a member from Kogi State, Mr. Sunday Karibi, who recalled that among the 21 victims, were three pregnant women.
He told the House that the Ministry of Interior and the NIS collected N1,000 each from over 1 million youths as administrative fee for only 4,500 vacancies.
Karibi added that the painful aspect was that some of the victims survived road accidents to get to the venues only to lose their lives.
He blamed the deaths on the “poor arrangements” made by the NIS and the ministry.
“In the end, only 20 per cent of the candidates could take the test because of the poor arrangements at the venues.
“Twenty-one Nigerians, including three pregnant women, lost their lives.
“The NIS realised about N1billion from the sale of forms. Why could they not organise a proper test for them?
“We must condemn this exercise unequivocally and commiserate with the families of the victims,” Karibi said.
Chairman, House Committee on Diaspora Affairs, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, asked the House to ensure that the minister made public, the names of the consultants, who allegedly conducted the exercise.
Dabiri-Erewa demanded a refund of the N1,000 collected from each of the candidates, in addition to paying compensation to the families of those who lost their lives.
“They knew that the jobs were not there in the first place; why collect money from people only to let them die?
“The Finance Minister (Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala) claimed that this government provided 1.5million jobs.
“From the large number of Nigerian youths we saw on Saturday, where is the evidence that 1.5million jobs were created?”, she added.
It was a day of self-indictment by lawmakers, who said the National Assembly should share in the blame of the incident.
One member from Plateau State, Mr. Bitrus Kaze, drew the attention of the House to comments in the public domain, suggesting that some National Assembly members were given slots to fill before the day of the test.
“This has to be investigated because I can speak for myself.
“I was neither aware of such slots nor did I benefit. It is a shame that we should be involved in this kind of mess,” Kase told the House.
A member from Lagos State, Ms. Jumoke Okoya-Thomas, also observed that the National Assembly should have stopped the exercise from taking place if it had prior information that proper arrangements were not made for the candidates.
“I blame the National Assembly because it is a shame to sit here and allow our children to die that way,” she rounded off in an emotion-laden voice.
Another lawmaker from Kano State, Mr. Ali Madaki, warned that Nigeria was already failing as a state, but nobody seemed to care.
According to him, all the indices of a failed state are here, with the killings going on all over the country without solutions.
Madaki spoke further, “Nigeria is a classical example of a failed state.
“A state where people are killed daily as if their is no value for human lives.
“We are the only country in the world producing large quantities of crude oil but cannot refine it to meet our domestic consumption.
“It is a shame, a big shame, Mr. Speaker.”
He had proposed that the House should recommend the sacking of Moro and the CG to President Goodluck Jonathan, but he was overruled by the Speaker, Mr. Aminu Tambuwal.
Tambuwal explained that it would be “hasty” to make such a recommendation since the matter was still under investigation.
“Let the principle of fair hearing be applied in this case.
“Let us not be judgmental yet since we have asked our committee to investigate the incident,” the speaker added.
The lawmakers later observed a one-minute silence in honour of the dead youths