No fewer than 18 job seekers died and many were injured on Saturday during a nationwide recruitment test conducted by the Nigeria Immigration Service.
Millions of job seekers who reportedly paid N1,000 application fees, had thronged venues of the exercise, mostly stadia, for the exercise.
Seven were confirmed dead after a stampede at the fully-filled 60, 000-seater National Stadium, Abuja, three job seekers, out of the 11,000 candidates who converged on the Women Day Secondary School Minna for the recruitment exercise also died when security agencies fired tear-gas at anxious applicants.
Security sources told our correspondent that Immigration personnel were overwhelmed by the crowd that lined up to two kilometres from the venue of the examination.
When our correspondent visited the Minna General Hospital, where the victims were taken to, one of the victims, apart from the dead, was in critical condition.
Comptroller of Immigration Service, Niger State Command, Ezekiel Kaura confirmed, that 11,000 candidates sat for the recruitment examination in Minna centre and that five candidates collapsed as a result of the stampede.
In Rivers, at least, five persons, including a pregnant woman, lost their lives during a stampede at the Port Harcourt Liberation Stadium venue of the recruitment exercise.
One of the applicants, who gave her name as Blessing, said a pregnant woman, who was injured, later died in the hospital.
“Five persons died. One of them, a pregnant woman, jumped the fence and hit her stomach on the ground. She was taken to the hospital. When we started leaving, we learnt that the woman had died.
“The other gates were locked and everybody struggled through the only available gate. Not everybody took the examination because there was no space; there was no space for those with HND and O’level. There was space for those with B.Sc,” she said.
The Public Relations Officer, NIS, Rivers State Command, Abang Bisong, said the stampede was caused by the unexpected number of applicants that turned out for the exercise.
Bisong explained that while the NIS was expecting 20,000 applicants, about 35,000 job seekers, which was beyond the capacity of the stadium, showed up for the fitness and written tests.
Similarly, they were reports that three pregnant women died at the exam venue in Edo State.
No fewer than 22,000 candidates sat for the test at the Sports Centre of the University of Ilorin, Kwara State, while a mammoth crowd stormed the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos, where applicants expressed concern over the poor conduct of the exercise.
Some nursing mothers, pregnant women and persons with disabilities also came for the recruitment exercise.
An applicant, Miss Dolapo Akinkunmi, who said she had been unemployed for over five years, said, “I got the message on Wednesday that the examination would hold on Saturday. My doctor refused to discharge me, but I had to beg him because I need the job desperately.
“This is already noon and we have not started. I have to go back to the hospital now before I die here because I cannot stand the crowd and the heat of the sun,” she said.
About 15,000 job seekers sat for the test at the Sani Abacha Stadium in the Kano metropolis, while the Aper Aku Stadium, Makurdi, the Benue State capital, had no fewer than 17, 800 applicants that took part in the exercise.
About 5,000 job seekers from Gombe and Borno took part in the exercise at the Abubakar Umar Memorial Stadium, Gombe, while the police officers in Enugu prevented protesting applicants from entering the premises of the NIS.
The applicants had gathered at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu, by 7am for the recruitment exercise but became worried when the exercise did not commence by 2pm.