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Customs suspends distribution of seized edibles following fatal stampede incident at Yaba 

The Nigeria Customs Service has temporarily ceased the direct distribution of confiscated edible items, an initiative aimed at alleviating economic difficulties for Nigerians.  

This suspension is in response to a devastating stampede that occurred at the NCS Old Zonal Headquarters in Yaba, Lagos, on Friday, 23 February 2024, during the first day of distribution, according to a statement by Abdullahi Maiwada, the Chief Superintendent of Customs and National Public Relations Officer for the Comptroller General. 

Nairametrics recently reported that the Federal Government had instructed the Nigeria Customs Service to distribute seized food items to help ease widespread hardship. Accordingly, ten distribution centers were set up to enable Nigerians to redeem food items using their National Identification Number (NIN), starting with the Yaba distribution point last Friday. 

According to Maiwada, the distribution process on that Friday at the NCS Old Zonal Headquarters in Yaba initially proceeded without incident from 8 AM to 5 PM. The situation took a tragic turn when the food supply ran out, and the crowd, upon hearing that the distribution would resume the next day, desperately pushed towards the barricades in search of rice bags, resulting in a deadly stampede with numerous casualties and injuries.  

  • “The disposal of the food items got off to a smooth start at about 0800hrs. We enjoyed the cooperation of the large crowd that obliged us, giving preferences to the elderly, people living with disabilities, pregnant women, and other vulnerable Nigerians who showed up for the exercise. This was the case up until about 1700hrs, as attested to by the over 5000 beneficiaries and members of the press.  
  • “However, unforeseen challenges arose when we ran out of stock and announced the continuation of the exercise the following day, leading to a regrettable outcome. The crowd became desperate and charged through our barricades in search of rice bags inside emptied containers. In the stampede that ensued, some fatalities and injuries were regrettably recorded,” the statement explained the incident at Yaba. 

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  • The statement also conveyed the Nigeria Customs Service’s deep condolences to the bereaved families of the victims lost in the tragic incident. It mentioned that the Service is actively coordinating with hospital authorities to reach out and directly communicate with the families of the victims regarding subsequent measures. 
  • Furthermore, it was announced that an internal investigation has been launched to thoroughly examine the events leading up to this distressing occurrence. 
  • The distribution activities have been put on hold until the Nigeria Customs Service can fully ascertain the details of what happened on Friday, 23 February 2024. This pause is to ensure that any future actions taken will be well-informed, comprehensive, and aligned with the Service’s original benevolent objectives, the statement emphasized.

 


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