• Friday, June 21, 2024
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Tears, anger as Customs deny killing five in Oyo at Reps’ probe

Nigerian Customs

Tears flowed freely and rolled down the faces of relatives of the five people allegedly killed by the Operatives of the Nigerian Customs Service in Iseyin Local Government Area of Oyo State when the Service denied killing the victims at the probe of the House of Representatives into the tragic incident.

The attempt by an Assistant Legal Adviser to the Nigeria Customs Service, Umar Lawal to absolve the Service of being responsible for the death of victims also sparked anger from members of the House Committee on Customs and Excise investigating the matter.

The House had in a resolution on May 18 mandated its Committee on Customs and Excise to investigate the alleged killing of five bystanders in Iseyin by Nigeria Customs Officers when it adopted a motion of urgent public importance moved by Shina Peller (APC, Oyo).

Customs Personnel had on May 14 engaged suspected smugglers in a shootout in the area during which five persons were reportedly killed and properties destroyed.

At the investigation, leader of the Iseyin community delegation, Kasaki Tijani told the Committee that five members of his community were killed, 50 villages away from the border, insisting that the victims were not smugglers.

“Those killed were not smugglers. We are not saying customs or any other government agency should not do its job, but they came into the town to shoot innocent people,” he said, adding that the officers passed 50 towns before coming to Iseyin, more than 200 km from the border,” he said.

Tijani argued that Iseyin is located about 200km from the nearest border; hence, the incident should not have happened as Customs’ operations should not exceed 40km from the border.

This claim was interjected by an Acting Deputy Comptroller General, Etom Edorhe who represented the Controller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali at the hearing as he said, the Service is not limited to carrying out operations in such distance away from the borders and it is empowered by the law to patrol freely.

Matters were however, made worst by the declaration of the Customs’ Lawyer, that “nobody was killed” in the incident which happened on May 13, 2021″.

“The smugglers intercepted by officers ran away and abandoned the vehicles, then our officers took charge of the seizure, and on their way to base, they came across a group of mob who blocked the road and attempted to take over the seizure, they tried to attack the officers, so the officers attempted to disperse them and fired gun into the air,” he said.

The lawyer, after reading a certificate of death of one of the victims, 30-year old Akintolan Tobi tendered at the hearing which indicated that he died of gunshot wounds, went ahead to dispute the Doctor’s report.

His remark triggered tears from relatives of the victims, including mother of one of the deceased, Akinlotan Bosede who made a loud cry, leading to emotional outbursts by lawmakers and others present at the investigative hearing.

After several unsatisfactory answers to questions by members of the Leke Abejide-led Committee who cautioned that care must be taken that lives were involved, Jerry Alagbaoso from Imo State moved for adjournment of the probe for zonal commanders in the area of the incident to appear at a yet to be fixed date.