Customs Killings Families of deceased Demand for N5.2bn Compensation, Public Apology

Families of persons reportedly killed and brutalised by the personnel of the Nigeria Customs Service, NSC, in Iseyin and Ibarapa Communities in Oyo State recently have demanded compensation from the Service as well as public apology for the babaric acts .

While the relatives of the Iseyin, Oyo State victims asked for a total sum of N4.5bn as compensation for the four killed and one injured , the families of the
Igangan, Igbo Ora, Ayete and Tapa in the Ibarapa area of Oyo State demanded for
a total sum of N700m respectively

The demands were made before the
House of Representatives’ Committee on Customs and Excise being Chaired by Hon Leke Abejoide (APC-Kogi) at its second investigative hearing in Abuja where the leadership of the NSC and families of the victims made claims and counter claims over the incident.

The investigation followed motions moved by the member representing Ibarapa North and Ibarapa Central Federal Constituency of Oyo State Dr Muraina Ajibola and the lawmaker representing lseyin/ltesiwaju/Kajola/lwajowa Federal Constituency of Oyo State ,Hon Shina Peller, demanding for an investigation into the killings and compensation of the victims’ families which were adopted and refered to the Committee for full Investigation.

Three persons who spoke on behalf of
Igangan, Igbo Ora, Ayete and Tapa in the Ibarapa area of Oyo State Shittu Ololade, Olusegun Okedeji and Sarafa Olaoniye relayed how the ugly incident happened and made their demands

They demanded N100m for Muritala Ajasa, who was killed in the incident. They also demanded N95m for Hassan Sulikufuli who was killed. The sum of N80m was also demanded for each of Sunday Oluwari and one Mr Zhulikifi, who were also killed.

Those who sustained injuries were Samod Olayode, Damilola Adeleke and Idris Lamidi, for whom N75m each was demanded.

On the other hand, a lawyer, Olugbenga Akinlabi, who represented victims of the shootings by Customs officers on May 13, this yearr in Iseyin town while Eid-el-Fitri festival was in progress in the community, made the demand in his presentation before the committee.

Akinlabi said, “according to the information we had, some men of the Nigeria Customs were chasing some smugglers from the border town into the community, and Iseyin being a community that is populated, people were coming from the prayer ground and there were indiscriminate shootings into the air buy men of the Nigeria Customs.

“As a result of their shootings, these are the casualties: Samson Oluwatobi – 30years, he is represented here today by Mrs Bosede Akinlotan; Yekini Abdullahi, he is represented here today by Azeez Rasheed; Timothy Gbadegesin is represented here today by Gbadegesin Mathew; and Wasiu Adesokan is represented here today by Adewale Adesokan.

“Also, Muraina Taiwo, who is here, sustained gunshot wounds in three places in his body. He was lifeless; it was God that made him recover from the gunshots. The rest whose names were mentioned did not survive it

“These individuals who lost their lives have relatives and dependants. To live has become a problem to the families left behind by the deceased. Muraina Taiwo who is alive today cannot not return to his work, so he needs to be compensated so that he can be restored and able to make a living for himself.”

The lawyer stated that the families have so much faith in the House and they believed that justice would be done and served.

According to him,“they are asking for the perpetrators of this heinous crime to be identified and brought to book. They are asking for an apology. In respect for the deceased, they are asking for compensation to the tune of N1bn each for each family. And Muraina who sustained gunshot injury is asking for N500m. N4.5bn for the dependents and the injured.”

The Committee lso grilled the NSC officers over an accident involving a Customs vehicle that led to the death of 10 persons and injuring about 20 others in Jibia, Katsina State.

However, the Deputy Comptroller General (Investigations) E. I. Edorhe said that the Katsina incident was purely an accident and that the vehicle was not going after smugglers as was reported.

It was a heated session as the lawmakers and Customs disagreed over the Iseyin and Ibarapa incidents.

The lawmakers accused the Nigeria Customs Service personnel of abuse of powers as the officers said they had to defend themselves and denied killing anybody at Iseyin

However, the Chairman of the Committee, Leke Abejide pointed out that the hearing was not to witch-hunt anybody but to see how the issues at stake could be resolved amicably in the interest of all parties.

Representing the Customs were
the Deputy Comptroller General (Investigations) E. I. Edorhe;
Acting Comptroller, FOU, Zone A, H. K Ejibunu; and Officer-in-Charge of Iseyin Base, Ali Biu, among others.

The lawmaker representing the Ibarapa North/ Ibarapa Central Federal Constituency, Dr Muraina Ajibola had earlier asked that the Customs officers who were directly involved in the shootings should be brought before the panel for questioning.

According to Dr Ajibola, “the people that did the act should be here, if we want to be sincere and we want to get to the root of this matter. When we give uniforms to people as a nation, we do not ask them or license them to take the gun and the uniform and kill our people

“So, if some people misbehave and the parliament is looking into their misconduct, they must appear before the parliament to come and give an account of why they use our uniforms and weapons to kill citizens of our country

“Mr Chairman, I am moving a motion that even if we are able to conclude this matter today, there should be an opportunity for them to be brought before you, if not before the whole committee, so that we can question them to find out why they would have done such a thing.”

Dr .Ajibola Muraina also emphasized that given the tensed security situation then prevailing in Ibarapa as a result of the recent sacking of Ibarapaland by bandits, the customs men should have been much more circumspect in their patrols and operations in Ibarapa area around that time and that the manner in which that operation was carried out at that time was the height of administrative indiscretion and customs should be made to pay dearly for such blatant display of administrative indiscretion and recklessness.

The committee has been investigating the killing of five persons in Iseyin, Oyo State, on May 13, 2021 – Sallah day.

Officers of the Federal Operations Unit of the NCS had allegedly killed the persons in the attempt to arrest smugglers and seize smuggled parboiled rice in two Sports Utility Vehicles.

END

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