September 3, 2019

We’ve been abandoned, cries wife of missing Customs officer


By Dapo Akinrefon

MRS Basirat AbdulSalam, wife of Custom Assistant 11 0fficer, AbdulSalam Rasheed, who went missing more than a year ago from  an operations by the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, Federal Operations,in Lagos Lagos, has alleged being  abandoned by the Customs Service.

According to Mrs AbdulSalam, her husband had gone on an official operation with his colleagues on April 14, 2018, when they were attacked by smugglers on Lagos-Abeokuta expressway, shortly after the toll gate.

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She said: “My husband and his colleagues who were also attached to the Federal Operations Unit, we were told, were attacked by smugglers during the operation. He was the one that drove the Customs’ official Hilux car which was taken for the operation. In the process, the smugglers overwhelmed the officers and they had to run away. Because my husband was driving the vehicle, he was captured by the smugglers who had blocked the road. He was said to have been taken away by the smugglers.

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“I was forced to visit their office in Lagos in the company of members of my husband’s family, his younger brother, AbdulWaheed and their elder brother, Mr. Bolaji Tunji, the Special Adviser on Communication and Strategy to the former governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi. During the visit, we were told that they were working on the matter. They told us that the police have arrested about 12 people. They said they have even arrested the owner of the smuggled rice. We were even shown the vehicle that the smugglers used to load the rice. The rice was still inside the yellow van in their office in Ikeja. But since then, no one is giving us information about what is happening. They have never visited us once since I went there.”

She said since her husband went missing, the responsibility for the upkeep of their six children, including their school fees, had been on her and some family members.

Also speaking on the issue, AbdulWaheed said his visits to the Customs office had not yielded any result.

He said: “I am surprised at the levity with which Customs have handled the matter. It is unfortunate that one of their operatives is missing and they have been so unconcerned about it.”

In his reaction, the former spokesman to Oyo State Governor, Mr. Tunji said: “I think they have done the best they can under the circumstance by reporting to the police that has the power to investigate and prosecute. I visited the Commissioner of Police, Ogun State on the same issue and he assured me that they would do all that is humanly possible to arrest and prosecute all those involved.”

His Excellency equally raised the matter with the former Inspector General of Police. Since then, we have not made headway. Our major concern now is to know what became of him. Has he been killed? If they had killed him, can we just have his body to have closure? I am particularly concerned that no one showed interest in the upkeep of his immediate family. Is that the way Customs handle such issues of its missing personnel. That is very unfortunate.”