Nigeria Newspapers

Falana wants justice for seven killed in Customs office stampede

0e1e2696 femi falana

Activist and human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), has demanded that the Nigeria Customs Service should compensate the families of seven persons who died in a stampede that ensued during the sale of low-cost rice at the Customs office in Lagos.

The Nigeria Customs announced the sale of  25kg bags of rice for N10,000, following a directive by President Bola Tinubu that rice seized from smugglers should be sold to Nigerians at a cheaper price to ease the food crisis in the country.

During the sale, which began on February 23, seven persons died in a stampede at the Customs Zonal Headquarters in Yaba, Lagos State.

The tragic incident led to the immediate suspension of the low-cost rice sale.

Falana, in a statement on Sunday, stated that it was sad that up till now the authorities of NCS had not deemed it fit to identify the families of the victims to at least commiserate with them.

The SAN said the NCS must take full responsibility for the incident.

“Since a bag of rice was selling for N77,000 at the material time, it ought to have occurred to the Nigeria Customs Service that its zonal headquarters in Yaba would not be able to contain the crowd that had been invited to purchase a 25kg bag of rice at N10,000.

“Therefore, the authorities of the Nigeria Customs Service should take urgent steps to identify the bereaved families of the seven deceased citizens with a view to paying them adequate monetary compensation.

“However, if our advice is ignored by the authorities, we shall not hesitate to approach the Federal High Court to enforce the fundamental right of each of the deceased persons to life as guaranteed by Section 33 of the Nigerian Constitution and Article 4 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights,” Falana said.

The senior lawyer, however, urged  NCS to lift the suspension of the sale of the remaining bags of rice without any further delay.

“To avoid another stampede, the distribution should be carried out through the appropriate local government councils and local government development areas in Lagos State and other states of the federation,” he said.