Ogun killings: Reps demand prosecution of trigger-happy Customs officers 

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The House of Representatives has demanded the prosecution of officials of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) involved in the extrajudicial killing of civilians in border communities of Ogun State.

While the House observed a minute of silence in memory of “all the victims of unlawful killings by men of the Nigeria Customs Service,” the lawmakers urged the Federal Government to ensure that the officers who were complicit and indicted in the incidents are prosecuted to serve as a deterrent to others. 

The House also urged the Federal Government to ensure that the families of all the deceased as well as the injured ones at the scene of the “Ihunbo incident where three students were killed” are given adequate financial compensation.

Sponsor of the motion, Kolawole Lawal, prayed the House to mandate the Committee on Customs and Excise to liaise with the NCS to “ensure that officers of NCS are trained and retrained to avoid killing of innocent people and maintain professionalism in the discharge of their duties.”

Moving the motion titled ‘Incessant killings by Officers of the Nigeria Customs Service in Egbado South/Ipokia Federal Constituency of Ogun State,’ Lawal recalled that on October 7, 2019, men of the NCS ran into some students who were returning from Ojumo Community High School, Ihunbo, in Ipokia Local Government Area of the state, killed three of them and injured many others with their vehicle.

Lawal also recalled that on May 1, 2020, Ridwan Bello, an Senior Secondary 2 student of Area Community High School in Owode–Yewa was killed by a stray bullet, while another killing allegedly by the men of NCS was recorded on March 28, 2020, when a stray bullet hit a 15-year-old Miss Sekinat Agbelade, an SS3 student of Agosasa High School.

The lawmaker listed cases and victims of alleged extrajudicial killings by Customs officers to include that of Mrs. Fausat Bankole, a widow and mother of three was killed at Ilashe in Ipokia Local Government on June 21, 2017; Mr. Paul Ayomaya Oriyomi, an undergraduate who was killed by Customs officers in the Ajilete area of Egbado South Local Government Area on October 22, 2017, while returning home from church; Mr. Niyi Adesanmi, a young law graduate killed by the officers of the NCS at Aseko area of Ipokia Local Government Area on May 10, 2018; and Mr Jamiu Bello and one other person who were killed by Customs men in Owode area of Egbado South Local Government Area on January, 3, 2019.

The motion, however, took a dramatic turn when Chairman of the House Committee on Customs, Leke Abejide, said investigations from his committee had shown that people living in border communities do not know that smuggling is illegal.

Abejide also said the extrajudicial killings were not deliberate but usually happen when people living in the border communities get caught up in face-offs between Customs officers who are pursuing smugglers.

The Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, asked why the Customs officers shoot at the citizens when chasing smugglers.

Gbajabiamila asked Abejide, “Are you justifying the killings? Are you saying it is self defense?”

Responding, Abejide said, “Yes, that is self defense.”

Consequently, several lawmakers, including Lawal, asked that an ad hoc panel be constituted to handle the probe instead of the Abejide-led standing committee.

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