We Are Not Responsible For Rice Buyers’ Deaths At Lagos Office – Customs

We Are Not Responsible For Rice Buyers’ Deaths At Lagos Office – Customs

We Are Not Responsible For Rice Buyers’ Deaths At Lagos Office – Customs

The Nigeria Customs Service has said it was not responsible for the death of seven people during a stampede at its Lagos Zonal Office.

Naija News reported that the Service had announced plans to distribute seized food items from smugglers to Nigerians to ease the pain of the nation’s economic crisis.

However, the process, which started on Friday, was reported to have resulted in a stampede, leading to the death of some citizens who wanted to benefit from the initiative.

Following the reports of the sad incident, the Customs reportedly stopped its rice distribution program in Lagos indefinitely.

Speaking with Punch over the weekend, the spokesperson for the NCS, Abdullahi Maiwada, described the stampede that led to the deaths of the citizens as unfortunate.

Maiwada, however, blamed the sad incident on impatience on the part of the people who came for the event.

He said: “At a point, they decided to be impatient. When we saw the crowd, we even suspended the collection of forms and said, ‘Let’s give them free’. We did that, we exhausted everything. After exhausting everything and we told them everything had finished, and that they could go, that we didn’t have any more, they persisted. Some of them broke the fence of that place.

“We had to put some barricades to cover the area. Some of them went and entered the container. At a point, we used our ambulance and took them to the hospital.”

The NCS spokesman failed to give the number of casualties recorded during the stampede, saying that those injured were taken to the hospital.

Maiwada said the Customs made use of Yaba because it had formerly demolished the place and did not want to endanger its facilities.

He added, “I don’t really have the statistics of the lives we have lost, but we made every effort for everyone to be orderly and rescue them. We took them to the hospital. What do you want us to do?”

“The reason we used Yaba was because we didn’t want to endanger our facilities.

When asked if the deaths resulted from pushing, he answered, “I can’t say. Some of them went and entered the engine container. Did we cause the death of anybody? We didn’t. We made efforts to rescue them because we took them to hospital. We have learnt our lessons. We have to go and restrategise on how we’re going to continue and sustain this initiative.

“I can neither confirm nor deny the number (of deaths). I don’t have that data now, but people are saying seven. It’s not true, it’s not up to that number but even if it’s one, yes, it’s life. But these are the circumstances that led to what happened, they were avoidable.

“It is very unfortunate, it is something that we wished did not happen and we are very pathetic about it. We are with them in this trying situation.”

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