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Angry unemployed youths, numbering about 40, yesterday afternoon stormed the Ministry of Interior at the Area 1, Old Federal Secretariat, with tins of red paint, to register their anger over the failed immigration recruitment, which claimed the lives of 19 applicants.
The protesting youths repeatedly called for the removal and prosecution of Internal Affairs Minister, Patrick Abba Moro and splattered red paints at the front of the ministry, while shouting “murderers, murderers” at no particular person.
Led by a lady who identified herself as Azania Mohammed, the group said it represented ‘Concerned Nigerian Unemployed Youths’ who want justice for those who died and applicants injured during the botched immigration recruitment exercise.
The few immigration and civil defence security personnel who were at the ministry when the demonstrators arrived were obviously taken unawares by the protesters who came to the ministry in groups of two and three persons to avoid attracting the attention of officials.
Efforts by the security personnel to disperse the youths were unsuccessful, as they insisted on making some impression by writing “murderers” at the entrance of the building at precisely where the minister uses when he enters the office before splattering the remaining paint around the premises.
Tension heightened when a pro-Abba Moro group, led by Etuk Bassey Williams emerged from nowhere to counteract the paint-carrying opposing group, shouting appeals that the minister should be given fair hearing.
No arrests were made while the drama lasted and the minister was not at the office at the period but the demonstrators succeeded in halting activities at the Interior Ministry as workers milled around curiously to ascertain what the mission of the youths were and how far they were prepared to go with the protest.
Senior officials of the ministry also came out to urge the youths to disperse but the disturbance lasted 30 minutes [2pm to 2:30pm] before the youths quietly drifted into the crowd as a re-enforcement of armed civil defence personnel were drafted to the ministry to keep the peace, restore order and protect the building.
The detachment of civil defence personnel zoomed into the Interior Ministry in an open pick-up van but by the time they arrived, even the Bassey Williams-led pro-Abba Moro group, which came to counteract the opposing group, had dispersed.
Deputy Director of Information and Media Relations in the ministry, Sir Edwin M.E. Opara, when contacted, said the ministry will study the situation and come out with statements later