Stampedes of applicants led to deaths in cities across the country, Interior Minister Abba Moro said.
The exam was scheduled for Saturday, and more than 500,000 Nigerians registered and paid an application fee of 1,000 nairas ($6.07) to take the exam to fill 4,556 positions. Twenty-three people were killed in stadiums in five Nigerian cities -- Abuja, Port Harcourt, Minna, Gombe and Benin, Leadership Newspapers reported.
Dozens of others were injured, the Pan African News Agency said, adding Nigeria's official employment rate of 23.9 percent, and 54 percent among youths, led to interest in the few jobs available in Africa's most populous country.
More than 60,000 candidates came to National Stadium in Abuja for the test, and 70,000 arrived at Lagos' 45,000-seat soccer stadium, PANA said.
Moro said seven died at National Stadium, adding, "The applicants lost their lives due to impatience. They did not follow the laid-down procedures spelled out to them. Many of them jumped through fences."
The exam was offered in 37 locations, largely soccer stadiums, across the country. Applicants began arriving at 6 a.m. for exams that were scheduled to begin in the afternoon, Leadership Newspapers said.