The families of the victims of the Eid-el-Fitri day shooting by men of the Nigerian Customs Service in Iseyin, Oyo State, have demanded N4.5 billion as compensation.
The demand was contained in a petition presented to the House of Representatives Committee on Customs by Olugbenga Akinlabi on Wednesday at the hearing into the series of killings involving personnel of NCS.
In the petition, Mr Akinlabi is demanding N1 billion each for the families of those who lost their lives, and N500 million for the victim who survived the attack.
The families are also asking for an apology from the NCS as well as the unmasking of the officers who allegedly perpetrated the act.
The committee, chaired by Leke Abejide (ADC, Kogi), is investigating killings in Jibia, Katsina State and Igangan and Iseyin in Oyo State.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported the killings in Iseyin and the subsequent motion moved by Shina Peller (APC, Oyo) into the matter.
The House, sequel to the motion, resolved that the committee on customs should investigate the circumstances surrounding the killings.
In August, 13 bystanders were reportedly killed in Jibia, a border town along the Nigeria-Niger corridor, after a Hilux van of the NCS rammed into people by the roadside.
According to reports, the officers were chasing smugglers.
Sada Soli (APC, Katsina) had moved a motion on the floor of the House calling for an investigation into the Jibia killings while Muraina Ajibola (PDP, Oyo) moved a motion into Igangan killings in Oyo State.
At the commencement of the hearing, there was a mild controversy over the taking of oath.
The Deputy Comptroller-General of Customs in charge of Enforcement, Investigation and Inspection, Elton Edorhe, refused to take an oath, stating that by virtue of his job, he had already taken oath.
“I cannot take oath twice, I am in uniform, there is no way I will take oath twice,” he said.
While making a presentation on behalf of the NCS, Umar Lawal, its counsel, denied the killings, stating that the petitioners have failed to provide death certificates.
“The totality of the allegations by the petitioner is bereft of evidence in the following sense. The petitioners allege that five persons were killed. Sir, the entirety of the petition and the attachment presented before you, there is nowhere a death certificate is attached.
“Secondly, there is no post mortem report. I can vividly remember when an honourable put this question at the last meeting that there was there a post mortem report on the death of the alleged five victims? There was none before you sir.” The committee chairman, however, ruled him out of order and accused him of misleading the committee.
“We have the report from the hospital. We have one of the victims here. So, don’t tell lies,” the chairman said.
Kehinde Ejibunu, the comptroller of Federal Operation Unit (FOU), Zone A, said “the matter was not without cause”.
He claimed that the people in the community attacked the men of the NCS in the course of taking over contraband items, adding that there was an attempt to disarm officers.
Mr Ejibunu said the NCS had to call for reinforcement from the Nigerian Army base close by.
He said “the community should present the smugglers” as a condition for NCS to provide the officers involved in the shooting.
He subsequently denied that the officers of the NSC killed the victims
While under cross-examination by Rolland Igbakpa (PDP, Delta), Mr Ejibunu denied that the officers of the NSC killed anyone.
“I am not aware of anybody that died,” Mr Ejibunu said.
On the Jibia killings, he maintained that “they were just an accident as a result of reckless driving by the officer of the Nigerian Customs Service“. Mr Edorhe said the officer involved is in detention on the charges of manslaughter.
Mr Edorhe appealed to the committee to stop the hearing into the Jibia killings because the matter is in court.
In response, Mr Abejide said the committee would present its report to the House for a decision on the matter.