At least 16 people were killed in stampedes for government jobs in Nigeria when hundreds of thousands were invited to apply for fewer than 5,000 positions, officials and activists said.
Interior Minister Abba Moro said the applicants "lost their lives through their impatience". Activists called for him to be fired. Emergency officials said the death toll could rise.
About 500,000 applicants were invited to apply for 4,556 vacancies at the Nigeria Immigration Service, according to Education Rights. Applicants said they each paid 1,000 naira (HK$47), apparently for the right to participate in tests on Saturday at the application centres.
Moro was quoted as saying by the official News Agency of Nigeria on Sunday that many of the applicants "jumped through the fences of affected centres and did not conduct themselves in an orderly manner ... This caused stampedes and made the environment unsecured".
But the Education Rights Campaign blamed Moro's ministry for inviting too many applicants and not providing enough security. The campaign gave the example of Abuja National Stadium, which has a 60,000 capacity. It said 65,000 applicants were invited and seven people died there. The other deaths took place in Minna, Port Harcourt, Dutse and Benin City.
The campaign said scores of people were killed. The Nigerian Red Cross and some hospital officials said the official death toll of 16 could rise.
Nearly 41 million of the 170 million population are unemployed.