Mar. 23, 2014
The family said it was concerned the tragedy may tarnish Mr. Moro’s record
The family of Nigeria’s interior minister, Abba Moro, has issued a passionate defence of its son, who is facing intense public fury over a deadly recruitment by the Nigeria Immigration Service, in which about 19 job applicants died.
A family spokesperson appealed for patience to allow investigations, but did not comment on calls for Mr. Moro to step down.
More than 520,000 job seekers turned up for the screening at 37 centres across Nigeria, leading to stampedes a week ago. All the applicants were charged N1, 000 each to register for the examinations.
In Abuja, seven applicants were reported dead while many more were injured.
Outraged Nigerians blame the minister and the head of Immigration, David Parradang, for the bloody screening, and have called for their sack.
The anger grew after Mr. Moro blamed the victims for their deaths, accusing them of being “impatient”. He said a consultant firm handled the process and ruled out refunds of the more than half a billion naira collected from the poor applicants.
President Goodluck Jonathan has yet ignored calls to fire the minister and the immigrations boss. The federal government announced jobs for three members from each of the deceased’s family.
In a statement Sunday, a spokesperson for Mr. Moro’s family said it was clear “that no words, no matter how solemn, coming from the family will be enough to atone” for the losses.
The family said the minister had done well in his previous assignments and would not deliberately orchestrate a process that would lead to deaths.
“We are worried that this singular incidence, though unintended appears to be overwhelming the numerous positive achievements our son has recorded in the ministry since his assumption of duty as minister,” the statement said.
Mr. Moro’s family said the consultant drafted for the exercise did not give the true picture of events leading to the stampedes.
Read the full statement below:
IMMIGRATION TRAGEDY: PRESS STATEMENT & POSITION OF ABBA MORO’s FAMILY
The family of the Honourable Minister of Interior have watched the events that followed the stampede occasioned by the recent screening exercise into the NIS which led to the death of about 19 applicants across the federation and hereby makes the following comments:
- That we strongly share this moment of grief and pains with the immediate families of all those who lost their lives during the ill-fated recruitment exercise and beg Almighty God to comfort all parents, brothers, uncles and siblings of the the deceased applicants while asking Him to give them eternal test in His bossom.
- That the Honourable Minister has gone down in history as one of the best local government chairmen Benue state in particular and the country in general has had, having served as ALGON chairman in Benue and having received numerous awards as best serving local government chairman in the federation in the past.
- That the Honourable Minister has over time, been known as a man of integrity, honesty, dedication to duty, thoroughness, commitment and we are still at a loss as to what probably may have gone wrong with this exercise.
- That we urge all Nigerians to please exercise patience to enable the investigation panel come out with findings as to what really went wrong, the findings will be useful to us as country to avert reoccurrence in future.
- We know that no words, no matter how solemn, coming from the family will be enough to atone for these loss suffered by the immediate families of the deceased applicants but will still beg for the understanding of Nigerians to enable the ministry carry out proper investigation into this tragedy and tell Nigerians what really went wrong.
- We do not want to be in a hurry to indict the consultancy firm that handled the exercise in order not to preempt the investigative panel already in place but will at the interim condemn the shoddy and clumsy fashion with which the exercise was conducted.
- That if the consultancy firm had done its job properly, it would have carried proper online screening of the applicants with the aim to prune down the size that would be invited for the screening exercise having in mind the existing vacancies.
- That as the Head of the ministry, the task of overseeing the conduct of the exercise rested strictly with the Minister through the CG of NIS, what happened at the field did not reflect the numerous assurances received by the Honourable Minister from the consultants that all was going on smoothly.
- We thank the Federal Government for coming up with some form of palliatives ranging from employment opportunities for immediate family members of deceased people as well as automatic employment for all injured applicants across the federation even though we are aware that that cannot bring back to life, all those who died in the tragedy.
- That the Honourable Minister is a member of the family and known seriously for his respect for sanctity of lives of people and cannot in anyway, celebrate the death of any human being as being insinuated in some quarters, but will however show respect for the opinions of individuals who have painted him in different light other than what we know about him.
- We are worried that this singular incidence, though unintended appears to be overwhelming the numerous positive achievements our son has recorded in the ministry since his assumption of duty as minister.
- Once again we plead for the understanding of all those who lost their dear ones in this incidence to show understanding as God knows better what has happened; our heart, as a family is with you and we strongly believe that God Almighty will comfort you during this period of grief, we are with you in prayers now and always. God bless Nigeria.
Major Agbo (Abba Moro’s Nephew) for the Family.