Iseyin And Jibia Victims Of Customs Operations Become N390 Million Richer  

By Stephen Ubanna

 The National Assembly on Customs  appear to have taken their personal dislike for Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, for not doing their bidding to   work against the Organization in all its ramifications.

Only last year the House Committee on Customs had begun investigation over the alleged extrajudicial killing of four indigenes and injuring of one in Iseyin Local Government Area of Oyo state. The Gbajabiamila led Hose of Representatives may have taken advantage of the probe to ask the Committee   ‘’to review the rules of engagement of the NCS, as it related to the usage of guns.

Gbajabiamila: Speaker House Of Representatives

The House was said to have also directed the Committee  ‘’to ensure   adequate Compensation  for the families of the victims and adherence  to the rule  of Customs  officers  not exceeding  40Km from the borders with the neighboring West African and Central African sub-regions.

 The FOU, zone A, anti-smuggling officers may not have deliberately shot at the smugglers at the Iseyin axis   but were in pursuit of a sport utility vehicle, SUV, conveying bags of foreign parboiled rice, 50 Kg each, before the accidental discharge of the bullet to force the smugglers to abandon the vehicle and take to their heels but were not lucky as it the occupants.

The situation was not different from the incident in Jibia town of Katsina state where ten persons were feared dead and 20 others injured after a Customs anti-smuggling Hilux Van rammed into people by the roadside.  Note that Jibia is a border town between Nigeria and Niger. The anti-smuggling officers were said to be pursuing a J5 Peugeot bus perceived was used by the occupants to smuggle foreign par boiled rice into the country but the driver lost control of the vehicle.

.Recall that that the National Assembly  Committee on Customs, particular, the  Senate  had made several attempts  to force  Ali, the Customs Comptroller General to appear before it over the activities of his men in Oyo axis of south west Nigeria.

In one of the invitations Muhammed Uba Garba, an Assistant Comptroller General of Customs, Enforcement, Inspections and Investigations, at the Customs Headquarters and now overseeing Customs Zone B office, Kaduna, was said to have represented the Comptroller General at the meeting.

  The invitation concerning the killings in Iseyin local government area of Oyo state was said to have been attended by Kihinde Hussain Ejibuno, a Deputy Comptroller, overseeing the FOU, Zone A, and Jack Okpabi, an Assistant Comptroller and the then Officer in-Charge of the Command Lagos Roving, and who was among the 18 Headquarters officers that were sent back last December to pave for the resident officers to grow on the job.

Many believe that nothing good would come out of the House Committee on Customs, chaired by Leke Abejide, report. This is because the Committee of the general House have already told them what to do: ensure Compensation for the victims of the Customs extra-judicial killings in Oyo and Katsina state.

 The Committee may have already made up their mind on what to do with the NCS, based on the contents of their report. The Committee may not have failed the general public impression about what will come out of their report. The Committee had recommended for the consideration of the Femi Gbajabiamil led House the payment of N390 million as Compensations for victims of what they had described as ‘’extrajudicial killings in the south west of Oyo and North West state of Katsina states.

True to the mandate of the Committee of the general House,  the Customs he Committee which turned in its report on Tuesday February 1, 2022, had recommended   that the families of the deceased  should be  Compensated in monetary terms  of  20 million each  and two each for those injured.

Abejide: Chairman, House Committee On Customs

 Abejide, the House Customs Committee Chairman o appears a bit emotional while presenting the report as captured on Channels Television. He had said that they probed the unrest in Iseyin Local Government Area of Oyo state due to the killings of indigenes by men of the NCS.

He had said that the number of persons killed in the area were four, meaning that the total value of Compensation for them would be N80million only. The Committee had reported that for the person   who obtained gunshot wound in the Iseyin incident  should be Compensated with the sum of Two million , thus bring the total Compensation that would be  paid out by the Ali led Customs to the alleged victims of extra-judicial killings by Customs anti-smuggling officers in Oyo state alone to N82 million.

While the families of the deceased  Iseyin indigenes  are to enjoy N20 million each,  the  had recommended that the Ali led Customs should also  make provision for  to pay  additional N20 million each  to the families of the  10 persons  by the roadside when Custom anti-smuggling vehicle ram on them  and Two million as Compensation  to the 13  persons  who sustained injuries.  

 The worry of many was why the House Committee on Customs should be concerned about the accidental discharge of Customs bullets which hit at unsuspected targets instead of condemning the continuous mob action against Customs personnel in the discharge of their duties.

Last September,  some  smugglers had killed  an  Customs Assistant, 1, driver, attached to the FOU, Zone A,  during a an operation,  after two vehicles  laden with smuggled parboiled rice were seized at Owode, Yewa, south local government Area of Ogun state and transferred to Lagos.  This is just one of the too many killings of Command officers pe in Ogun state and other parts of the country by angry mob, aiding and abetting smugglers.

 The question on the lips of most people was that if Ali, the Customs Comptroller General, who has the mandate of the Katsina state born Nigerian President to mobilize his men to ensure that no Contraband enters or leaves the country’s officers are regularly killed by angry mob for carrying out their legitimate duties, who will the Compensation to the families of the deceased.

 This  is where Abejide, and fellow House  Committee members may have to do a rethink on matters involving the NCS a national Institution , working to save the country from  being a ‘’dumping ground  of foreign manufactured and contraband  goods  that would kill the  Local industries  and throw many people into the unemployment market.

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