Families of victims killed by Customs demand 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 are demanding compensation from the service as well as a public apology for the barbaric acts.

While the relatives of the Iseyin, Oyo State victims asked for 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 N700m.

The demands were made before the House of Representatives Committee on Customs and Excise being chaired by Hon Leke Abejide (APC-Kogi) at its second investigative hearing in Abuja where the leadership of the NSC and families of the victims made claims and counterclaims 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 an investigation into the killings and compensation of the victims’ families which were adopted and referred 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 on behalf of Muritala Ajasa, N95m for Hassan Sulikufuli, N80m each for Sunday Oluwari and Mr Zhulikifi, who were all 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 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 by 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 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 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 of the deceased, they are asking for compensation to the tune of N1bn each for each family. And Muraina who sustained a gunshot injury is asking for N500m. N4.5bn for the dependents and the injured.”

The committee also 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 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, 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.

Others who represented Customs were Acting Comptroller, FOU, Zone A, H. K Ejibunu and Officer-in-Charge of Iseyin Base, Ali Biu, among others.

Oyo lawmaker, 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 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.”

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