Nigeria Customs Service suspends sales and distributions of rice after stampede leading to death of citizens

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Following a stampede at the NCS Old Zonal Headquarters in the Yaba neighborhood of Lagos State on Friday that purportedly resulted in the deaths of seven people, the Nigeria Customs Service stated on Monday that the sale of rice bags would be suspended.

According to a statement released on Monday by Abdullahi Maiwada, Chief Superintendent of Customs and National Public Relations Officer for the Comptroller General of Customs, the exercise has been suspended

In an effort to lessen the pain caused by the high cost of living and other economic problems, Nigeria Customs had earlier announced that it was going to sell 25k bags of rice that had been seized for N10,000.

Suspected thugs allegedly tried to break into the Yaba Customs office compound on Friday, resulting in the death of a pregnant woman and six other people in a stampede.

Following the initiative’s suspension on Monday, a number of Lagos citizens who flocked to the NCS office in Yaba voiced dissatisfaction. A long line of people, many of them were old, formed in front of the gate to purchase the rice.

The audience continued to grow even though officers made a coordinated effort to persuade the public that the service was sold out.

Toyin Oke-Owo, one of the intended purchasers, challenged President Bola Tinubu to come up with a long-term fix for the nation’s economic woes.

She said, “I have been here since 8 am. They said there would be no rice again. I have not eaten anything since this morning. Help us to tell the President that we are hungry.

“They said they wouldn’t sell it because some people died here. They have been chasing us away with a cane. I am hungry. This morning, I soaked cassava flour for my child to drink as breakfast.”

Another woman, identified as Adesola Odefunso, said, “Please, help us to beg them that they should distribute what they have to those of us who have been here since morning.

“We are not as many as the people who came here on Friday. Help us to beg them to give us rice. We have been here since 5 am. We didn’t sleep throughout the night because of this rice.”

Meanwhile the Customs spokesperson made as a statement saying “We regrettably announce the suspension of this exercise until we establish what transpired on Friday, February 23, 2024,” 

He explained that: “The disposal of the food items got off to a smooth start at about 08:00hrs. We enjoyed the cooperation of the large crowd that obliged us, giving preferences to the older persons, people living with disabilities, pregnant women, and other vulnerable Nigerians who showed up for the exercise.

“This was the case up until about 17:00hrs, as attested to by the over 5,000 beneficiaries and members of the press. However, unforeseen challenges arose when we ran out of stock and announced the continuation of the exercise the following day, leading to a regrettable outcome.

“The crowd became desperate and charged through our barricades in search of rice bags inside emptied containers. In the stampede that ensued, some fatalities and injuries were regrettably recorded.”

“Our deepest sympathies to the families of those who lost their lives during the tragic incident,” he said.

Regarding the victims relatives’ next moves, the organization said it was collaborating with health officials to get in touch with them.

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Alex Obichie
Alex Obichie
Alex Obichie is an Ardent Sustainability Enthusiast, advocate for the Waste-2-Wealth Initiative, and Ingenious Politician, he uses articles to promote and sensitize the public about matters surrounding the environment, political systems and ways to benefit & support sustsinable global development.

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