•Villagers allege extra-judicial killings
By Esther Onyegbula
Residents of Gbaji-Ashiri-Hulenu community, located along Lagos-Badagry expressway, are asking the authorities and the human rights community to investigate the killing of their members by stray bullets during fire fights between operatives of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and smugglers.
They also alleged extra-judicial killings by men of the NCS and soldiers.
The residents listed those who were allegedly killed between 2008 and this year to include Oloitutu Albert, Segun Adeberu, Michael Apase and Michael Whesu.
Oloitutu, according to the President of Badagry West Youth Forum, Prince Nunawa Sunday, who spoke on behalf of the residents, was shot dead while one Zofun Satide sustained serious bullet injuries in front of their house when Customs men were chasing after smugglers, shooting sporadically on September 29, 2013.
Michelin, 15, Sunday stated, died in hospital after she was hit by a stray bullet allegedly fired by a drunken Customs operative simply identified as Abisosun. The victim, it was learnt , was returning from church when the tragic incident occurred.
Segun, allegedly killed at Afowo village waterside on June 29, 2016, was said to have been shot in the neck.
Michael, the latest of the victims, allegedly met his fate on June 29, 2016.
The trigger that snuffed life out of the victim was allegedly pulled by one Customs operative identified as Nwaeze at Seme border.
Michael’s alleged offence: Importing frozen chicken.
He was said to have been shot in the arm and hip and died on the spot.
Narrating the death of her daughter, Michelin’s mother, Whenaze Whesu, told Sunday Vanguard: “My daughter was in primary six when she was killed. She was returning from holy communion service in our church on the fateful day. The officer who shot my daughter was identified as Abisosun who was obviously drunk during a disagreement with some people. He opened fire and my daughter was killed by a stray bullet at Baji.
The case was reported to the police and they came to the scene of the incident. They took my daughter to the General Hospital where she later died. After several months of assuring us that the police were investigating the case, nothing happened. At a point, we got tired of the police attitude; so we demanded for the release of her corpse and buried her. There was no compensation, nothing whatsoever to show remorse for taking the life of my little girl, no line of action since it happened in 2008″.
Whenaze added that the community residents were not in any way in support of the activities of smugglers or prevented the NCS and soldiers from performing their duties but that such duties must be done within the ambit of the law and without molestation or violation of people’s rights.
Unlike Oloitutu, Michael, Micheline and Segun, among others, whose lives were allegedly cut short, 21-year-old Josu Diken narrowly escaped death after he was allegedly shot by a Customs officer. Diken narrated: “I was a goldsmith apprentice as of the time of the incident. I was coming back from work that day when I got caught up in a crossfire between smugglers and Customs. The commanding officer of Ibereko barracks came to the scene and calmed the parties involved and promised that detailed investigation would be carried out and that necessary action would be taken. “The case was also reported to the police at Badagry police station. I spent over a year in hospital before I could walk again. But till today nothing was done by the authorities about my case”.
Sunday, Badagry West Youth Forum leader, said the killing of Micheal was avoidable if Nwaeze, the alleged trigger-happy Customs officer, had applied professionalism in the discharge of his duties that fateful night. He also accused Nwaeze of using his position as a Customs officer to cover up his illegal business activities in
Seme. “He brings in goods and also assists people to bring in goods without
paying duties. He has boys working for him. We challenge him to prove us
wrong and tell us the source of his wealth. He has been in Seme for the
past years and always resists attempts to transfer him,”Sunday said. The youth leader asked the human rights community and the authorities to investigate the alleged killings in Gbaji-Ashiri-Hulenu.
When contacted, the Public Relations Officer, NCS Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Jerry Atta, said the allegations were very strong and that the FOU is separate from Badagry/Seme Command. Meanwhile, when Sunday Vanguard contacted, on phone, the Badagry/Seme Command Public Relations Officer, Mr Selechang Taupyen, he simply said his Comptroller General had addressed the issue before. He declined further comments.