by Akan Ido
The whole country was earlier jolted by fresh news of young unemployed Nigerians dying at various Nigerian Immigration Service test centres across the country.
Hundreds of thousand of job seekers trooped out in Lagos, Oyo, Niger, Rivers, Abuja and other states to take part in the NIS recruitment exercise. The Abuja test centre however witnessed the death of 7 candidates who reportedly died as a result of a stampede, several other candidates were rushed to the National Hospital to receive medical attention.
Read the Sun report below:
No fewer than seven persons, comprising six women and a man, were confirmed dead, while more than 40 sustained various degrees of injuries after a stampede during the recruitment exercise conducted by the Nigeria Immigration Services (NIS) at the Abuja National Stadium yesterday.
Our correspondent at both the venue of the recruitment exercise and the National Hospital where the dead were deposited in the mortuary and the injured attended to, can report that while over 15 persons, including pregnant women, were in critical conditions, no fewer than 30 persons underwent medical attention at the hospital.
Many of the casualties who spoke to the Sunday Sun blamed the stampede, which happened around 9.00am on the poor handling of the crowd by the Immigration officials, explained that the curious applicants who had waited for hours at the gates of the stadium for the commencement of the exercise tried to gain entrance through one narrow gate.
Recounting his experiences, an applicant, who identified himself simply as Joel, narrated: “I arrived this venue by exactly 5.00am and met a sea other applicants already waiting for the officials to open the entrance gate. We waited until around 9.00 when the officials started trickling in.
“Instead of them to throw the whole gates open, they only managed to open one of them. But, with everybody eager to enter first, there was stampede and many found themselves on the floor. There was serious stampede that while many sustained injuries, many others died. They were rushed to the National Hospital very close to the stadium. I saw many taken out lifeless, but I can’t confirm the exact number to you,” he noted.
In fact, while the health personnel attached to the over seven ambulances stationed at the stadium had hectic time attending to the injured, our correspondent at the Accident and Emergency of the National Hospital counted more than 19 casualties either of the bed or lying critically on the floor waiting for the doctors, battling to attend to them.
An applicant and a mother of two, Mrs Aroniya Abigail, who spoke to Sunday Sun at the hospital, expressed grief that she could not found his brother who was involved in the stampede, lamenting that she has checked him inside the mortuary and wards without success.
“I will say, to God be the glory that I’m alive to tell the story. As I talk to you now, my brother is still missing. We came together to the stadium but I have not seen him after the stampede. I have tried his number repeatedly but it was not going. I still have his credentials with me now but I cannot reach him.
“When I heard that they rushed some people to this hospital, I came here to know if he was among them. When I saw the victims they evacuated into the mortuary, I followed them and I can confirm to you that I counted six women and one man.
“As you can see for yourself here, it is of no use counting the casualties because apart from these ones lying on the floor, there are many others in almost all the available bed spaces. I don’t know where to start now because I can’t find my brother. My biggest challenge is that they said that they have transferred some of the casualties to other hospitals around,” she lamented.
Meanwhile, the crowd of over 70,000 applicants at the venue for the exercise had one ugly experience to share. While many of them lost the originals of their credentials, many others were stranded after losing their bag containing personal effects like handsets, money, my original credentials, cloths among others after the stampede.
“When they pushed me down, people started stepping or falling on, I saw somebody picked my bag but I could not see her again. Look how I’m walking barefooted because all my belongings are in my bag. I had changed to the dress code they requested, putting everything into the bag I have lost now. I’m regretting coming here because I don’t know where to start from,” an applicant, Jenifer Ochaya, lamented.
Another applicant who had an altercation with the immigration officials while expressing anger over the poor arrangement, said: “I lost all my belongings including the originals of my credentials. You are wrong to ask me why I did not secure my credentials because I was happy to be alive today. I lost everything but I have my life and I’m ready to start all over again.”
However, as at the time of filing this report, the helpless immigration officials seems to have tactically abandoned the applicants when it was obvious that the crowd were too much for them to do anything.