Abuja – A stampede marred the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) recruitment in Rivers.
Some 25, 000 applicants were scheduled to participate in the NIS job recruitment interview holding at the 16, 000 capacity Liberation Stadium in Port Harcourt.
It was learnt that several NIS job applicants were seriously wounded, while some lost their certificates in the melee.
The Public Relations Officer of NIS in Rivers, Mr Abang Bisong, who confirmed the incident in Port Harcourt on Saturday, said the stampede was caused when about 20, 000 candidates forced their way into the stadium.
“During the stampede, some candidates fell and were trampled upon by others, while some became unconscious due to the incident.
“The victims have been taken to the Military Hospital for rehabilitation and treatment.
“At the moment, we have not received any information on their present condition,” Bisong said.
Bisong, a Superintendent of Immigration, said that NIS had advertised positions for university graduates, diploma holders and Senior Secondary School Certificate holders.
An eyewitness and victim, Mr Jasper Saturday, corroborated Bisong’s account but commended security agents in the manner they handled the crowd.
Saturday, who claimed to have lost his original certificates, said that gunshots released by security agents to disperse the crowd averted “a tragedy which could have occurred”.
“The immigration officers were trying to screen candidates from the stadium gate and in the process some candidates became impatient and started pushing us from the back.
“Those of us who were in the front fell to the ground because others stepped on us and as a result, some candidates lost consciousness.
“If not for the gunshots released to the air by security agents to scare the candidates pushing us from behind, there would have been several casualties,” Saturday said.
However , in Imo State, Gov. Rochas Okorocha assured the job seekers that he would ensure that they were not shortchanged in the recruitment.
Okorocha gave the assurance in Owerri on Saturday at Dan Anyiam Stadium where thousands of applicants gathered for the aptitude test for employment in NIS.
He said he would ensure that the employment quota for Imo was filled by indigenes of the state.
The governor said that not all the applicants would be successful and advised them to also apply for jobs in the “Imo Youths Must Work programme” of the state government.
No fewer than 10 applicants, including three expectant mothers, fainted while waiting for the commencement of the test.
Some of the applicants expressed disappointment over the manner the exercise was organised.
An applicant, Nwakuche Isigu, said he left his village in Oguta Local Government Area by 6a.m. to ensure that he arrived early at the venue.
Another applicant, Onyemobi Anyanwu , called on the Federal Government to create more jobs for the youth.
In Kebbi, 5,000 applicants assembled at Halliru Abdu Stadium, where officials had tough time controlling the applicants.
The venue witnessed a boom in economic activities as food and snacks vendors as well as sachet water sellers enjoyed good patronage.
The police, Federal Road Safety Cops and National Security and Civil Defence Corps personnel assisted in the maintenance of order at the venue. (NAN)