It was all tears yesterday at the National Hospital, Abuja where families of some of the victims of the weekend’s Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) recruitment fiasco battled to collect their remains.
Besides, many stormed the hospital in search of their missing wards.
Seven people, including five women, died at the Abuja centre. In all, 19, among them three expectant women at the Benin centre, died in cities where the exercise took place.
In Minna, the Niger State capital, bodies of two applicants remained unclaimed yesterday. “Nobody has come to claim them,” a hospital official said.
The relations of the dead who came to the National Hospital were not given the bodies.
But, survivurs at the Abuja, Port Harcourt and Lagos centres relived their experiences.
One of the dead at the Abuja centre was Oyiza Yusuf, a 35-year-old mother of one.
Her brother Mohammed Yekini pleaded unsuccessfully for her body to be released for burial “since she is a Muslim”.
Interior Minister Abba Moro, whose ministry supervises the NIS, urged the hospital to release the bodies.
But, as at press time last night, the bodies had not been given to the families.
There were 11 injured at the hospital.
Mr. Yekini spoke of how he received the news of Oyiza’s death, saying: “I am a lecturer at the Federal Polytechnic, Nassarawa and I was in my office when my wife called to say she was dead.
“She is a Muslim and we do not want further delay. Her remains should have been buried yesterday (Saturday). Her death is causing us more pains. She is married with a kid. She was defrauded N1,500 last year for this same job. She did not get it. Things have to change, we have to begin to get it right. What is happening in this country is not good. Government is not good to us. The problem is that may be the people they wanted have been employed.
“She was with us two months or so ago. Had I know, about this, I would not have allowed it. Now her father and mother are alive. She is 35 years and one of the bread winners of the family. She is into business, buying and selling.”
Oyiza’s sister, Bilikisu, was all tears: “I have called the Minister of FCT, Bala Mohammed, to help talk to the hospital authority to release our dead to us. She told me that she would be going for the interview and she went with a friend who resides in Lugbe. Later I called her number, it was not going through. I guess it was when they were trying to enter the stadium. Her friend was pregnant. She was trying to rescue her friend who fell when she was trapped. Our brother informed us that Oyiza is dead.
“We cannot leave the dead body in the mortuary. We could not sleep till daybreak. It is like leaving a sick person in the hospital without care.”
Mrs Aronia Abigail was at the hospital in search of her brother who was among those rushed in for treatment.
A mother of three, Abigail, who was an applicant, said: “I am from Jos. My husband is from Kogi. To God be the glory, everything is difficult to explain. As I’m talking right now, my brother is still missing. Look at his certificate with me here. Before that incident, we lost contact and I have not seen him. He is my immediate younger brother. When I saw the crowd when they were about to open the gate, my spirit was telling me that I should not go in. I was telling other people that we should retreat. I was even using the military language. Somebody pushed me and another person hit me. I am a mother of three, including a six months old. In this country, something is wrong with us.”
The bodies of the two victims in Minna, Niger State are yet to be identified. Nobody had come forward to claim them – as at last night.
They are deposited at the Minna General Hospital mortuary. The victims are a male and a female.
Four of the seven injured persons – all women- were still at the General Hospital yesterday. Three injured men were transferred to IBB Specialist Hospital for further treatment.
Commissioner for Health Dr. Ibrahim Sule confirmed that the two bodies were still in the morgue.
“I have been on top of the matter personally since Saturday and I have directed that the injured should be attended to adequately,” the commissioner said.
He blamed the Immigration Service for not liaising with the ministry about the programme.
“It was wrong of the organisers to have planned a programme of that magnitude without provision for medical. They also failed to liaise with my ministry, we would have gone there with mobile clinic,” Sule said.
Speaking from her sick bed, Blessing Bako, a School Certificate holder, said she owed her luck to a sister who saw her when she was trampled upon by other applicants who were trying to run away from the tear gas released by an Immigration Officer to drive away the surging crowd at the Government Girls Secondary School venue of the aptitude test.
Recounting her ordeal, Bako said: “I recalled I fell down following a surge and people were stepping on me until one of my sisters called two men and came to my rescue.
“I have my waist dislocated and I cannot move. I am also having some pains on my chest and my left shoulder”, she said.
To Hannah Damidami, an NCE holder, how she found herself in the hospital was a mystery. “We were on a queue. I remember that some young men just rushed and pushed those of us on the queue. At a point, I was sandwiched and I lost my breath. The next thing was to find myself in the hospital.
“I don’t know who brought me here and it was when I became conscious the hospital management took some information and contacted, my people. I thank God and the hospital staff for saving my life,” Damidami stated.
Still with blood shot eyes and a broken arm, Damidami lamented the ordeal applicants suffered. She vowed never to attend such an aptitude test again.