Abuja – Mixed reactions have trailed President Goodluck Jonathan’s approval of a Special Presidential Committee to assist the Immigration Department to re-conduct the aborted recruitment.
THe department had on March 15, conducted the exercise during which many applicants died and others wounded from stampedes in the venues.
Some stakeholders and applicants of the aborted exercise, who spoke on Friday in Abuja, said the decision was a good development.
Others were of the opinion that setting up a committee to conduct fresh recruitment was premature as adequate compensation to victims of the exercise was yet to be made.
Mr Frank Tietie, the Executive Director, Citizens Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights (CASER), said it was important for victims to be compensated before a fresh exercise was conducted.
He said that the issue of infringement on the rights of applicants was yet to be addressed, adding that compensation given to the dead and injured applicants had no legal effect.
Tietie explained that there were adequate laws that provided compensation for victims in the circumstance and the Federal Government was yet to adhere to them.
“The compensation announced by government is not legal as there is adequate law in place that talks about the kind of compensation to be given to victims.
“We are presently working to see that the law of the country as it affects this matter is adhered to,” he said.
“We saw how immigration officers beat and mishandled applicants on the day of the exercise and these officers have not been sacked.
He said that the civil defence corps, fire service, immigration and prisons board should be investigated rather than being allowed to carry out a fresh recruitment.
He criticised the manner in which previous NIS recruitment were carried out.
Tietie said If there were proper investigations, the March 15 tragedy would have been avoided.
He advised that the committee set up by the president to conduct fresh recruitment into the NIS be put on hold.
Tietie said this would allow for proper investigations and prosecution of officers who were in charge of conducting the March 15 exercise.
Dr. Simon Dolly, the National President, Youth Wing Christian Association of Nigeria (YOWICAN), said setting up a committee was a good development.
He said that the compensation given to the families of the dead and injured victims was, however, inadequate, adding that government needed to do more.
“Government should further compensate their families by training them in schools up to the university level.
“They should be given at least 5 job slots and financial compensations should also be given.” Dolly said.
He noted that if fresh recruitment was made, the youth would still participate as the high level of unemployment in the country did not give them any other choice.
He advised that applicants who would be employed after the fresh exercise should be based on merit.
He called on government to create job opportunities for youths not only in the immigration service but other sectors of the economy.
“Our youths have the zeal and ability to contribute their best in the development of the country so they should be given the opportunity to do so.”
The national president said the success of the 2015 election depended largely on government’s ability to engage as many youths as possible before the elections.
Dolly said this was because many youths roamed the streets, looking for jobs which made them vulnerable hence they could easily be recruited as political thugs.
Miss Attadu Uneku, an applicant who was a victim of the stampede, expressed joy over government’s decision to grant employment to the injured.
Uneku, who was being treated for spinal cord and leg injuries at the National Hospital, Abuja, said the automatic employment was good compensation after the ordeal she went through.
“After what I went through that day, if I had not been granted a job, I would not have participated in another exercise.
“When I am discharged from the hospital, I have a job waiting,” she said.
Another applicant, Mrs Anastasia Omajali, said that if the fresh exercise was going to be conducted with fairness, she was willing to participate again.
Mr George Livinus, another applicant of the exercise, said he was also willing to participate in another one.
Federal Government, in a statement by the Secretary to the Government, Sen. Anyim Pius Anyim, announced the setting up of a committee to conduct another exercise.
The committee has 12 weeks to conclude its assignment. (NAN)