Tordue Salem, Abuja
The House of Representatives Committee on the Customs, have disagreed over the alleged killing of five indigenes of Iseyin in Oyo State, by officers of the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS.
The Assistant Legal Adviser to the Nigeria Customs Service, Umar Lawal had denied a medical doctor’s report on the cause of death of one victim of the Iseyin killing in Oyo State, to the chagrin of the Committee.
The committee was directed by the House to look into the alleged killing of five persons in the Iseyin community of Oyo, by personnel of the NCS.
In the course of the inquest on Tuesday, Lawal after a review of the report which stated that both primary and secondary causes of death of one of the victims, argued that the report may have been based on hearsay, provoking tears from relatives, and mother of one of the victims, Mrs Akintolatan Bosede, to tears.
The committee members were shocked by the lawyer’s insistence that “nobody was killed” in the incident which happened on May 13, 2021.
A leader of the Iseyin community, Alhaji Kasaki Tijani who led other relatives of the victims to the hearing had earlier in his submissions, told the Hon. Leke Abejide-led committee that five members of his community were killed after 50 villages from the border, and insisted that the victims were not smugglers.
“Those killed were not smugglers. We are not saying customs or any other government agency should not do its job, but they came into the town to shoot innocent people”, he stated, adding that the officers came across all 50 towns before coming to Isheyin, more than 200 km from the border.
He, therefore, appealed to the committee to help, so those affected will be compensated..
Led in defence by an Acting Deputy Comptroller General, Etom Edorhe, the legal adviser, however, said the incident happened when the men and officers were at a roving patrol, and intercepted two Pathfinder jeeps laden with foreign parboiled rice, made attempted arrest, but that the smugglers abandoned the vehicles, only for a mob to mobilise to the Service’s base.
“The smugglers intercepted by officers ran away and abandoned the vehicles, then our officers took charge of the seizure, and on their way to the base, they came across a group of the mob who blocked the road and attempted to take over the seizure, they tried to attack the officers, so the officers attempted to disperse them and fired a gun into the air.
He claimed that when the officers went to the base, more crowd emerged, and the process, two officers were caught and wounded by the mob, got overpowered an attempt was made to abduct an officer, “so the leader had to make a call for the intervention of the sister agencies, the army was contacted but before the arrival, they have successfully disposed one of the injured officers of his riffle. Army joined hands to calm the situation and retrieve the riffles” but insisted that to person was killed.
After several responses to posers by the committee members, who cautioned that care must be taken that lives were involved, Rep. Jerry Alagbaoso came with the suggestion for adjournment of the session, since the area zonal commanders at where the matter was an incident were absent at the hearing. The hearing was adjourned indefinitely.