Falana Threatens Legal Action Against Nigeria Nigeria Customs Service Over Death Of Seven 

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Kemisola Oye 

HUMAN rights activist and constitutional lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN) has threatened to approach a Federal High Court to enforce the fundamental right as guaranteed by Section 33 of the Nigerian Constitution and Article 4 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights of each of the seven persons killed during a stampede at one of Nigeria Customs Service facilities in Lagos.  

Mr Falana, who is also the Chairman of Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond (ASCAB), in a statement today 10 March 2024, said it was sad to note that the authorities of the Nigeria Customs Service have not deemed it fit to identify the bereaved families of the deceased and commiserate with them. He said as a matter of fact, the deceased persons have been blamed for their “impatience“. 

Mr Falana quoted the spokesperson for the Customs as saying: “At a point, they decided to be impatient. When we saw the crowd, we even suspended the collection of forms and said, ‘Let’s give them free’. We did that, we exhausted everything. After exhausting everything and we told them everything had finished, and that they could go, that we didn’t have any more, they persisted. Some of them broke the fence of that place. We had to put up some barricades to cover the area. Some of them went and entered the container.”

Mr Falana further noted that since it is common knowledge that similar distribution of food items to poor people had recorded stampedes in the recent past, the authorities of the Nigeria Customs Service “must accept full responsibility for the blatant negligence that led to the avoidable death of the seven citizens. 

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.”

The rights activist further urged the Nigeria Customs Service to lift the suspension of the distribution 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.”

Eighteen-Eleven Media reports that the Nigeria Customs Service Zonal Headquarters in Yaba, Lagos on 23 February, 2023 bombarded by thousands of indigent Nigerian citizens who wanted to take advantage of the lower price of rice, a staple food in the country. The rampaging crowd led to a stampede resulting in the death of seven persons.  

 

Eighteen-Eleven Media

 

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