By Emman Ovuakporie & Johnbosco Agbakwur
ABUJA—Families of the victims of the 2014 immigration recruitment tragedy, yesterday, stormed the National Assembly protesting failure of the Federal Government to fulfil the promises made to compensate them for the loss of their loved ones.
Meanwhile, Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS, was summoned by the House of Representatives to explain why the pronouncement of compensation to the families of the victims had not been settled.
Over 45 persons, including a pregnant woman, from different parts of the country, were reported dead, following the stampede that trailed all the recruitment centres, while 137 people were injured.
The management of NIS is to meet with the three-man committee, comprising the House Majority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamilla; Minority Leader, Leo Ogor, and Aminu Shehu Shagari, APC, Sokoto State.
The outcry that followed the controversial recruitment and attendant death of some of the applicants led to the setting of up of a probe panel by the National Assembly to unravel the reason behind the stampede.
The recruitment, which was attended by about 60,000 applicants for only 4,000 vacant positions, also brought acrimony between the then Minister of Interior, Mr. Abba Moro, and the former Comptroller General of Immigration, David Partadang, as the latter accused the former of hijacking the exercise.
Worried by the situation, former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, promised to compensate the families of the deceased by directing that two members each from the families of the deceased be given automatic employment in the NIS.
But six months their employment letters were said to have been prepared, the beneficiaries had had yet to be asked to resume work, prompting yesterday’s protests.
Speaking at the gate to the National Assembly, the National Coordinator, Nigerian Immigration Service Recruitment Stampede Victims, Mr Edmund Osasumah, said all the promises made by the government to employ three members of their family were yet to be fulfilled.
He said families of the deceased who were issued employment letters on March 11, 2015, were yet to start work because NIS promised that they would resume at the same time as the injured victims.
According to him, about 137 injured victims who were screened and cleared by NIS were yet to be given appointment letters.
He said: “Our agitation right now is for the NIS to release the employment letters of the injured victims ever since they were screened six months ago. They were told that the letters were ready so they should release it to them so that they can start work.”
Urging the lawmakers to intervene to ensure that they were adequately compensated, Osasumah said: “We just pray that the relevant authorities should use their relevant offices to intervene on our behalf and on our suffering so that they can start work.”
Receiving the group, the Leader House of Representatives, Femi Gabajabiamila (Lagos-APC), assured them that the House wouldexpedite actions to ensure they were adequately compensated.
Gabajabiamila said it was unfortunate that the families were yet to be compensated since the incident happened in March 15 2014.
“I want to assure you that we will definitely do something about this. I personally on individual capacity as your majority leader will take this matter up.
“ I believe all hands will be on deck to ensure this matter is addressed expeditiously and judiciously. We will look into it and we will summon who we need to summon and we will give it priority. A promise is a debt and I want to believe when the previous did it they did so with a very clear intention,” he said.
Also speaking, the House Minority Leader, Rep. Leo Ogor (Delta-PDP), commended the group for their approach in addressing the problem and assured that the House would do everything within its legislative ambits to see that the letters were ratified.
Ogor said: “We should appreciate the fact that every Nigerian is equal. So long the employment letters have been issued, I will appeal that you hold strictly to them and we will do everything to ensure that they rectify those letters and everybody goes back to his job.”