Customs kill 2-year-old girl while chasing smugglers


Seize Items Worth N118m
Stray bullets allegedly fired by officers of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) have killed a two-year-old girl in Ogun State.

The Guardian gathered that the bullets were fired by one of the customs officers who were chasing some suspected rice smugglers in Itawaya, near the Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro, Yewa South local council of Ogun State.

The incident, which occurred on Thursday, also left two others, the mother of the child and a young man whose identity could not be immediately ascertained as at the time of this report injured.

It was further gathered that the child was rushed to a hospital, but was pronounced dead having lost too much blood.

An eyewitness told The Guardian that there were gunshot injuries near the girl’s armpit, suggesting that the bullet penetrated through that part into her body.

The source disclosed that a Customs officer had opened fire while chasing a man suspected to be conveying foreign rice.

“Those Customs officers thought he was smuggling rice, so they opened fire on him. It was one of the stray bullets that killed the child and also inflicted injuries on the mother.

“It was after they had committed murder that they realised the man they were chasing was not with rice. That’s what we face here all the time.

“Unfortunately, it happened the day President Buhari was in other zones of the state to commission projects. May God rescue us,” the source said.

When contacted, Ahmed Oloyede of the NCS in Ogun 1 Area Command confirmed the incident, describing it as highly devastating.

“We sympathise with the family of the minor and the Command is making efforts to contact them. The Controller has also ordered investigation into the incident towards putting an end to similar incidents going forward,” Oloyede said.

Meanwhile, the Kebbi State Area Command of the NCS has disclosed that it seized assorted items valued at N118, 944,926.00 last year.

Addressing a press conference yesterday at the Command’s headquarters in Birnin Kebbi, the Area Customs Controller, Hafiz Kalla, said the seized items included 1,583 bags of 50kg and 10 bags of 25kg of foreign parboiled rice.

Others included 299 packages of one kilogramme of Indian hemp, 253 bales of second hand clothing, 1,603 pieces of new textile materials, a tanker loaded with 50,000 litres of premium motor spirit (PMS), and five units of vehicles.

The Command also disclosed that it seized 111 pieces of used tyres, revealing that it generated N13,181,500 from the auction sales of 128,750 litres of PMS/AGO and other perishable items it seized in accordance with extant laws guiding its operations.

It added that the amount has since been remitted to Federal Government’s coffers.

“This achievement was made possible by the doggedness of our gallant officers and men as well as the help and support of other units in the Service and relevant security agencies through mutual collaboration and intelligence sharing.

“It is noteworthy that the strategies we put in place to bring down the rate of smuggling activities to the barest minimum in Kebbi State have started yielding positive results. A cursory look at our seizure records for the year ended, when juxtaposed with the year 2020, shows a sharp decline in the frequency of smuggling and the items smuggled,” Kalla said.

He stated that the Command made a total number of 234 seizures in the year 2020, but recorded 154 seizures in 2021, which suggests a 35 per cent decline in the rate of smuggling.

He called for the continued support of members of the public, saying: “I would like to acknowledge the fact that while the job of securing our land borders statutorily rests on Customs, we cannot do it alone without cooperation and support from our relevant stakeholders and well meaning Nigerians.”

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