CG Customs Must Go, Northern Coalition Demands

Date:

The Northern Youth Council has called for the resignation of Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi.

This is following the death of at least seven persons due to the stampede that occurred during the buying of seized rice put on sale by the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, in Lagos State on Friday February 23,

The Council made their position known in a press statement signed by its President, Isah Abubakar and made available to AljazirahNigeria Newspapers.

In the statement, the Northern youths queried the sales of a contraband product that was tagged “not healthy.”

“How can the Nigeria Customs Service sell rice they seized, a contraband that was tagged not healthy, and stopped from coming into Nigeria for causing colon cancer? Unarguably, he cares less for the health and lives of the poor and that’s grossly insulting,” the statement read in part.

The President further stated that, “if the customs boss can comfortably supervise the deaths of seven innocent Nigerians in broad daylight, then he is worse than Boko Haram, who hide and launch attacks at night. He has no regards for the lives of Nigerians and has divided lives into classes, those that matter like his and that of his friends and families, and those that don’t matter, which are those of poor Nigerians.

“We question his humanity and condemn his lack of remorse for the lives lost. We call on President Tinubu to call the Customs boss to order, as he is feeling untouchable and too powerful because of his connections to the President.

“We remain resolute and un-bothered with his connections to the President and are hereby calling for his resignation over incompetency and for supervising the deaths of innocent Nigerians. Should he fail to resign, we will be compelled to take to the streets in two ways; first, by observing a candle night in front of the Customs headquarters in memory of the Nigerians who lost their lives, which will be followed up by a protest in the morning demanding for the sack of the Customs boss.

“While we pass our deep and sincere condolences to the families, friends and loved ones of the deceased, we call on Nigerians to come out in large numbers and support us as we march in solidarity to demand for justice for the souls or our lost compatriots,” the statement read.

Recall that dozens of people turned up for the open sales on Friday February 23, at the Customs zonal office on Harvey Road, Yaba, Lagos, where a 25kg bag of rice was to be sold for N10,000.

The customs had said that the move was to cushion the economic hardship occasioned by the soaring costs of essential food items in the country.

The sales was monitored and supervised by the Comptroller General of Customs, CGC, Wale Adeniyi himself, however, a stampede later occurred when everyone wanted to get a bag for themselves.

Eyewitnesses said people were trampling on others just to get into the premises leading to the death of a pregnant woman and six others, and that things got out of control when armed hoodlums in camouflage gear attempted to force their way into the venue.

But despite the widely reported deaths, the Customs’ spokesman, Abdullahi Maiwada, said, “I can’t say if there was any death, but some people fainted during the stampede and were rushed to the hospital.

“The activity started peacefully, with the CGC on ground monitoring till 5pm. Our men controlled the crowd until the stampede occurred.”

He blamed the development on impatience on the part of the people who came for the event. “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 hospital,” he said.

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 to rescue them. We took them to hospital. What do you want us to do?

“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.”

It is believed that the response of the customs further angered not a few Nigerians. Speaking to this medium, Mrs Deborah Agu, a trader at the popular Wuse Market, Abuja decried the response of the Customs to the death of fellow humans. “What is annoying many of us especially mothers is not just that we lost fellow humans especially women and children at the premises of the Customs in Yaba under the watch of the Comptroller General, but it is the callous response of the Service that leaves so many unanswered questions. How can you say you did not cause it? That goes to tell us the disdain with which our leaders look at the common man. If they lost their pet dogs or cats, you will see these same persons genuinely shaken and sad. Yet they care less for the lives of their fellow humans just because they have attained some level of comfort. They should all remember that there shall be a day of judgment before the creator.”

Nigerians await the response of the president to this.

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