BREAKING: Customs suspends sale of seized food items after 7 Nigerians die in Lagos stampede

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has suspended the sale of seized food items after a stampede claimed 7 Nigerian lives at NCS Old Zonal Headquarters in the Yaba area of Lagos State.

A spokesperson for the Customs, Abdullahi Maiwada, announced this in a statement on Monday.

Recall that dozens of people turned up for the open sales on Friday, February 23, 2024, at the customs’ zonal office on Harvey Road, Yaba, Lagos, with a 25kg bag of rice sold for N10,000.

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The customs had said that the move was to cushion the economic hardship occasioned by the soaring costs of essential food items in the country.

While the distribution was ongoing, it was learnt that a pregnant woman and six others died in the stampede when armed hoodlums in camouflage gear attempted to force their way into the venue.

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The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos State said one of its members, Mrs Adebanjo Comfort Funmilayo, was among the victims of the stampede.

Meanwhile, announcing the suspension of the programme, Maiwada said; ““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.

“Considering the recent unfortunate event, we regrettably announce the suspension of this exercise until we establish what transpired on Friday, 23 February 2024.

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“This should help us to properly articulate more robust and comprehensive action that will not defeat the noble intention.”

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