On Saturday, 15th of March, 2014, the ides of March, the Ministry of Internal Affairs ( Interior), Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), and the public officers responsible for the Ministry and NIS, principally Abba Moro, the Interior Minister and David Parradang, the Comptroller General of Immigrations jointly and severally killed, at least twenty (20) people, across the country during a job recruitment exercise conducted by the Nigeria Immigration Service in stadia across the Country.
The facts and circumstances of the tragic incident, and the fact that it was not unprecedented make these public officers and the Federal Government of Nigeria not only liable for the civil wrong that had been done to the deceased and their bereaved families but also culpable in criminal law for the unlawful killing of the deceased. Apart from, and in addition to being sacked, these public officers, ” and others at large” must be prosecuted.
Moro and his ministry and Comptroller-General of Immigrations David Parrradang and the Department of Immigrations invited these Nigerians who died and the traumatized others, who are living, to apply for employment. We have been told that over 520,000 applicants applied for the under 4,556 job vacancies.When the number of applicants hit 4,000, 40,000 or 100,000, the Ministry and Immigrations Department did not turn back subsequent applicants. They kept taking applications from job seekers who were made to pay for seeking jobs that were not available. Why? The Ministry and Immigrations were engaged in another illicit act of raking in ” internally generated revenue”, to be stolen as the “recruitment exercise administrative costs “. Corruption was, thus, the motivation and driver of this recruitment fraud.
Remember, the police recruitment scratch card, online application recruitment scam of the past. Recall the Imo State Governor, Ohiakim similar employment scam of the past. The Joint Admission Matriculation Board (JAMB) is also on board of this illicit public fleece, dubiously selling online forms to candidates or victims, if you will, to apply for admission into tertiary institutions, far in excess of admission capacity of the tertiary institutions. The money realized is called internally generated revenue, which these institutions, that are fed and sustained by “external” statutory votes and budgetary allocations, have wide latitude to steal.
These innocent Nigerians were scammed (and now some of them have been murdered) to apply for jobs that were not available. Not only because the number of applicants far outstripped advertised vacancies, but also because the publicly advertised vacancies would have been privately filled, anyway, before the public charade, by vested interests, who have turned public service into a fiefdoms of unbridled nepotism and mediocrity. When these murderers got over 520,000 applicants in their hands for less than 4,556 available jobs, they had ample time to embark on arbitrary screening; for example, prune down the number of ” successful applicants to be shortlisted for interview” to say a manageable level of 40,000 applicants, in order to ensure that the applicants did not mass up at the stadia. They did not do so. Why? Simulations and pretences are the hallmark of fraudsters. They wanted to give the fraudulent impression that the exercise was open, transparent and credible.
When they invited these applicants, these murderers knew the number of those expected to congregate at each of these venues of tragedy. Did they prepare for them? Were paramedics there on standby? Did they prepare for crowd control? No. And to think that these are the institutions in charge of our borders in Nigeria. Porous thinking, negligent reasoning equals porous borders. Our borders, we can now see, are not porous because of the vast land. They are porous because of vacuous and arid mind.
Two years ago, an avoidable disaster like this one almost occurred. And the Ministry of Interior and Immigrations who are now the undertakers who have interred these unemployment victims and forced them to embark on an irreversible emigrations out of country and out of life, were very much in the system, then. So, calamity like this had almost occurred before. Did Abba Moro and his co-agents of death do everything, or even anything, in their power to avert this disaster? No.
And so, we declare that the minister and the Comptroller General of Immigrations, with others now at large, co-conspirators, are criminally liable, and must be brought to justice. Also, under our criminal laws, criminal negligence can be prosecuted. “It is the duty of every person who has in his charge or under his control anything whether living or inanimate, and whether moving or stationary, of such a nature that, if the absence of care or precaution in its use or management, the life, safety or health of any person may be endangered, to use reasonable care and take reasonable precautions to avoid such danger; and he is held to have caused any consequences which result to the life or health of any person by reason of any omission to perform that duty.”
The minister and his subordinates were in charge of the immigration recruitment exercise and, in particular, in charge of the public venues where the selection and interview charade took place on Saturday, 15th of March. In Abuja, Federal Capital Territory, applicants, far in excess of a 60,000 capacity National Stadium, were said to have been invited to the venue of the mass slaughter. The Minister and his subordinates owed the dead applicants a duty of care. They breached that duty of care. And they must be held responsible in civil actions ( unlawful killing, breach of fundamental right to life), and in a criminal charge for the resultant damage ( injury) and deaths.
Jiti Ogunye, a social justice advocate and attorney at law, is based in Lagos