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Customs Suspends Sale of Foodstuffs After Tragic Stampede Claims Lives in Lagos

By Grace Chigbu

In the wake of a tragic stampede that resulted in the loss of seven lives at the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) Old Zonal Headquarters in Yaba, Lagos State, the NCS has announced the immediate suspension of the sale of foodstuffs. The stampede occurred on Friday, prompting the NCS to halt the initiative aimed at selling seized food items at subsidized rates to ease the burden of the high cost of living.


Chief Superintendent of Customs and National Public Relations Officer for Comptroller General of Customs, Abdullahi Maiwada, made the announcement on Monday, acknowledging the suspension in a statement. The initiative, which saw rice being sold at N10,000 per 25kg bag, was intended to alleviate the economic hardships faced by many Nigerians.


The tragic incident unfolded when a group of suspected hoodlums attempted to force their way into the NCS office compound, resulting in chaos and panic among the crowd gathered for the sale. Among the victims was a pregnant woman, whose demise underscored the severity of the situation.


In the aftermath of the stampede, disappointment loomed among Lagos residents who had queued up at the Yaba Customs office to purchase rice. Despite reassurances from officers that the service had run out of stock, the crowd persisted, highlighting the desperation caused by economic challenges.


Speaking to reporters, one of the intending buyers, Toyin Oke-Owo, lamented the dire circumstances, urging President Bola Tinubu to intervene and address the prevailing economic hardships. She expressed her hunger and frustration, emphasizing the urgent need for assistance.


Similarly, Adesola Odefunso pleaded for the distribution of the available rice to those who had patiently waited since the early hours of the morning, deprived of sleep and sustenance.


In response to the tragic events, the NCS released a statement in the evening, citing the suspension of the foodstuffs sale pending an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the stampede. The service expressed regret over the unfortunate incident and extended heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims.


The NCS spokesperson detailed the sequence of events, highlighting the smooth commencement of the initiative and the unforeseen challenges that led to the stampede. The service affirmed its commitment to cooperating with health authorities and supporting the affected families in the aftermath of the tragedy.


As investigations unfold and efforts to console the bereaved continue, the suspension of the foodstuffs sale serves as a somber reminder of the need for caution and compassion in addressing the economic struggles faced by many Nigerians.

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