At least 12 people were taken to the hospital in Port Harcourt. Four applicants fainted in Imo State.
Hospital authorities at the Rivers government-owned Braithwaite Memorial Hospital in Port Harcourt have confirmed that four candidates died during a stampede at the Nigeria Immigration Service recruitment in the city.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that more than 20,000 candidates were involved in a stampede at the Liberation stadium, Port Harcourt, venue of the exercise on Saturday morning.
The news agency quoted a source at the hospital as saying 12 candidates were brought to the hospital after the stampede.
“I can confirm to you that four have died, four others in critical condition while four were treated and discharged,’’ the source said.
The source, who pleaded for anonymity, said a pregnant woman was among the dead.
The source said doctors and specialists have been called back to duty to assist to save the lives of the remaining four candidates on emergency list.
“Some of the candidates were in bad condition because they were trampled upon during the stampede,” the source said.
At the military hospital, Port Harcourt, authorities confirmed receiving some of the injured persons but said they were being taken care of.
However, Mr. Abang Bisong, the Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Rivers Command, confirmed to NAN that some of the injured were taken to the hospital but did not know their condition.
The Immigration recruitment held across Nigeria on Saturday with several reports of deaths and stampede from different states. Advertised positions were for university graduates, diploma holders and Senior Secondary School Certificate holders.
In Abuja, recruitment, at least seven job seekers died at the Abuja National Stadium while scrambling to secure seats for the recruitment test.
The National Hospital, less than a kilometre away from the stadium, received the bodies and confirmed the casualty figure.
The stampede ensued after the over 20,000 job seekers scrambled through a poorly organized barricade at the test venue, witnesses said.
The police in Abuja said they are yet to get information on the deaths.
Some 25, 000 applicants were scheduled to participate in the recruitment interview at the 16, 000 capacity Liberation Stadium in Port Harcourt.
NAN learnt that several applicants were seriously wounded, while some lost their certificates in the melee.
Mr. Bisong 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,” he said. “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.”
An eyewitness and victim, Mr Jasper Saturday, said the situation would have been worse but for the response from security personnel.
“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.
10 applicants faint in Imo State
However, in Imo State, Gov. Rochas Okorocha assured the job seekers that he would ensure that they were not short-changed in the recruitment.
Mr. 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.
NAN reports that 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)