Seven people have reportedly died in a stampede that occurred during the distribution of seized bags of rice by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) in Lagos.

On Thursday, NCS commenced the distribution of food items seized from smugglers to ameliorate the economic hardship in the country.

Speaking during the flag-off of the exercise, Wale Adeniyi, comptroller-general of customs, said the rice to be distributed has been repackaged in 25kg to reach more Nigerians.

Adeniyi added that customs has seized over 20,000 bags of 50kg parboiled rice, beans, maize, millet, and soya beans from smugglers.

To get the 25kg of rice, Nigerians are to pay N10,000 and provide their national identification number (NIN)

On Friday, many Nigerians stormed the NCS command located in the Yaba area of Lagos to buy the 25kg bag of rice.

During the exercise, a stampede occurred, and seven people reportedly died and others were injured.

 

APC MOURNS MEMBER

In a short message shared on WhatsApp, the APC leadership in Ward E1 Surulere, Lagos, announced that Adebanjo Comfort Funmilayo, one of its members, died during the stampede that occurred at the customs office in Yaba.

“It is with a heavy heart and regret that we announce the painful death of one of our members in WARD E1, Mrs Adebanjo Comfort Funmilayo of house number 104, Ibidun street by Akinhanmi street, Ojuelegba,” the statement reads.

“She was among the 7 victims that died in the course of buying custom rice at Yaba.

“May God grant all the members of her family and all the residents of WARD E1 the fortitude to bear the irreplaceable loss.”

CUSTOMS CONFIRMS INCIDENT

Speaking with TheCable on Sunday, Abdullahi Maiwada, NCS public relations officer, said the stampede occurred “because Nigerians, who came for the exercise, did not obey simple instructions for the distribution of the items”.

Maiwada said the incident was not due to a “lack of coordination” on the part of the agency but the “attitude of Nigerians”.

“We started an orderly process, and people benefited from it until Nigerians decided not to be orderly and conform to simple instructions and directives. That is what led to what happened,” he said.

“The CGC was at that scene from the beginning to the end of that process. He pleaded with them to comply with the simple directive, and that we have more than enough to distribute.

“Some Nigerians decided to round trip. At a point, we stopped collecting money and started distributing it for free.  But Nigerians, in their manner, started round tripping and this is what caused what happened.”

Asked to confirm the casualty toll, he said, “I can’t confirm. I’m not aware. I don’t have any assertive report for now. I neither deny nor confirm. There was a rowdy session. In fact, I am aware we took some people in our ambulance to the hospital with our medical doctors.”

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