Africa

Nigeria's ex-Interior Minister Abba Moro charged over stampede

Job-seekers appling for work at the Nigerian immigration department scramble as their exam papers fly in the air, on the pitch of Abuja National Stadium, on March 15, 2014. Image copyright AFP
Image caption The deadliest stampede took place at the Abuja National Stadium in the Nigerian capital

Nigeria's ex-interior minister has been charged with fraud over a botched recruitment drive, which resulted in stampedes that left 20 people dead.

Abba Moro led a scheme which encouraged young graduates to apply for jobs in the immigration ministry in March 2014.

Stadiums, which were being used as test centres, were overwhelmed by huge crowds of people turning up to apply.

Mr Moro has pleaded not guilty to his role in an alleged $2.5m (£1.8m) fraud, involving missing application fees.

There is a high level of unemployment in Nigeria, especially among young people.

Court papers filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) allege that more than 675,000 people were defrauded by the scheme, which required them to pay a $6 (£3.50) application fee to take the initial recruitment test.

The case has been adjourned until 2 March.

On 15 March 2014 deadly stampedes occurred at stadiums in the Nigerian cities of Abuja, Benin and Port Harcourt, as well as a school in Mina city, as people scrambled to apply for the new jobs.

Many Nigerians online have been commenting on the irony that a former minister in charge of the country's prisons is facing a lengthy stint behind bars if he is found guilty.

Image caption Abba Moro denies defrauding those who applied for the recruitment scheme

At the time, Nigeria's interior minister rejected calls for him to step down and initially refused to accept any responsibility for the disaster.

He blamed the officials in charge of the stadium for the deaths, as well as the job seekers themselves.

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