December 5, 2022

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Reps to probe killing of four Oyo residents by Customs officers

Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila

The House of Representatives on Wednesday demanded an investigation into the recent killing of residents of Igangan, Igbo-Ora, Ayete, Tapa in Ibarapa Area of Oyo State by men of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).

This followed the adoption of a motion by Rep Ajibola Muraina (PDP-Oyo) on the floor of the House entitled ‘Need to Investigate the Brutal Murder at Igangan, Igbo Ora, Ayete, Tapa in Ibarapa Area of Oyo State by Men of the Nigeria Customs Service’.

While moving the motion, the lawmaker lamented that at about 8:00pm on July 16, 2021, men of the NCS attacked Igangan, Igbo-Ora, Ayete, Tapa, and other communities in Ibarapa Area of Oyo State during which four residents were killed.

He added that the attackers who dressed in NCS and the Nigerian Army uniforms also drove at high speed into the communities in a convoy of two Toyota Hilux vans and one Toyota Sienna bus.

The lawmaker also noted that without provocation from the residents, the NCS shot sporadically in built-up areas and killed Muritala Ajasa, the Amotekun Commandant in Ibarapa Central Local Government Area, at Igbo-Ora.

He said the attackers also killed two passers-by at Igangan and one person at Ayete, leaving several residents with life-threatening gunshot injuries.

He lamented that on June 6, about 40 days before the attack, Igangan was invaded in the night by suspected bandits who reportedly killed 15 residents and razed the palace of the traditional ruler, two petrol filling stations and destroyed properties worth millions of naira.

He added that the Public Relations Officer of the NCS, Mr. Theophilus Duniya, issued a press release admitting that the attack was a face-off between NCS men and suspected smugglers, claiming that the smugglers were resisting seizure of smuggled rice by allegedly inciting a mob to attack the Customs men, which resulted in the shooting and eventual disarming of one of the smugglers.

The lawmaker explained that because of several similar conflicts with men of NCS in the past, which had resulted in the death of innocent residents, leaders of the affected communities had made several appeals to NCS to reduce the number of patrols carried out by armed Nigeria.

He added that this had proved futile as the service instead increased and intensified patrols despite the fact that the communities are over 200 kilometers away from the closest border post.

He said that residents of the affected communities affirmed that the four persons who were killed, as well as several others who sustained life-threatening injuries, were not smugglers but ordinary residents carrying out their daily activities.

He said that the service instead of showing remorse continued to threaten residents of the affected communities and the general public under the guise of doing all it takes to suppress smuggling activities.

The motion was unanimously supported by the lawmakers when it was put to voice vote by Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, who presided over the plenary.

The House condemned the killings and condoled with the families and friends of all those who lost their lives in the crisis.

The House also mandated the Committee on Customs and Excise to investigate the shootings with a view to ensuring that victims are adequately compensated.

The House urged the committee to report back within three weeks for further legislative action.