The Comptroller-General, CG, of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (Rtd), has, on behalf of the Service, expressed deep regret over the ghastly vehicle accident that occured in Monday, 9 August, in Jibia, a boarder town between Katsina and the Niger Republic.
This was conveyed via a statement issued today by the Service’s Public Relations Officer, PRO, DC Joseph Attah.
TheFact Nigeria gathers that the accident occurred while some operatives of Customs Service in a Hilux van were pursuing a J5 Peugeot bus suspected to be involved in rice smuggling. A source had said the driver lost control of the vehicle and ran into people standing by the roadside.
Six people are said to have died on the spot while the injured were taken to a hospital in Jibia, where two more lost their lives.
Reports have it that the owner of the J5 Peugeot, like so many others, usually buys maize from Dandume town, for sale in Jibia, and they usually give money to the Customs officers, but not because they are dealers in smuggled goods.
The J5 driver had refused to stop at a certain checkpoint just after Batsari on the way to Jibia. The Customs officers followed the driver from their checkpoint into the town and it was while they were chasing him that the vehicle ran into bystanders.
Reports also said that the Customs officers jumped out of the vehicle after the accident and took to thier heels. This irked a few youths who then set the Customs’ vehicle ablaze.
However, the Public Relations Officer of the Service in Katsina State, Danbaba Isa, disputed the account that the officers were pursuing a vehicle, saying that what happened was an accident that can happen to anyone at anytime. According to him, the accident happened while the officers were on thier way back to their checkpoint. It was on their way that the vehicle developed a brake failure, which resulted in the accudent.it
The Customs chief, in the statement, said they were ‘mindful of the duty of care imposed upon us to ensure the safety of our citizens’.
‘Unfortunately, our efficiency is sometimes undermined by unanticipated failures in our equipment as in this case which was caused by brake failure resulting in the death of Eight (8) fellow Nigerians and injuries to others at the border town of Jibiya, Katsina State’, he said.
He further said that, while the Service shares in the pains of losing these compatriots and extends heartfelt condolences to the immediate families of the deceased, Government and the people of Katsina State, the Service is doing all it takes to get the best treatment possible for the injured and will do what it can to ameliorate the pains of those who lost their loved ones.
He acknowledged that human actions could not always keep society accident free, he had directed a holistic investigation into the incident with a view to preventing a reoccurrence ‘of this unfortunate accident in the future’.
Ali, on behalf of the Service called on all well-meaning Nigerians to show understanding of the situation and offer words or actions that can help heal those in pains.
‘As a Service, our hearts and prayers go to the families of the bereaved and those in hospitals’, he said.
Meanwhile, sequel to a motion moved by a member representing Jibia constituency, Mustafa Yusuf, the Katsina State House of Assembly yesterday, 10 August, directed its Clerk to write Governor Aminu Masari, seeking the disbandment of the Border Drill task force in the state.
The lawmaker alleged that Customs officers in the Border Drill team always overspeed even while inside towns.
The House unanimously condemned the activities of members of the team which resulted in the accident.
The House also resolved to write the National Assembly to protest the activities of the Customs officers in the border drill team.