Customs officials kill six persons while chasing rice smugglers
Six people have now been confirmed dead and over 20 others injured after a Hilux van of the Nigeria Customs Service rammed into a people by a roadside in Jibia town of Katsina State early today.
The Nigeria customs says the tragedy was an accident resulting from a failed brake
Jibia is on the Nigerian border with Niger Republic and many of its residents engage in cross-border trades.
The accident occurred while some customer’s officers were pursuing a J5 Peugeot bus they suspected was involved in rice smuggling.
“The driver lost control of the vehicle and ran into people standing by the roadside” a resident of the town, Almustapha Danye, said.
“Six people died immediately while the injured were taken to a hospital in Jibia. I was told that more of them have died but I cannot confirm that because I did not follow them to the hospital.”
A trader, Kabir Jibia, who witnessed the accident, said it occurred around 8 a.m.
“The owner of the J5 Peugeot is among those buying maize from Dandume town and bringing it here (Jibia) for sale. They normally give money to the Customs officers though what they are doing is not smuggling.
“But this J5 driver refused to stop at one checkpoint immediately after Batsari on your way to Jibia.
“They followed him from their checkpoint into the town and it was while they were chasing him that the vehicle ran into bystanders.”
Mr Jibia, who also said he witnessed the accident, said: “The J5 driver knows the town very well and had already run away from the customs officers.”
Mr Danye, on his part, said the customs officers took to their heels as soon as they jumped out of the vehicle involved in the accident.
“People were initially trying to save those who were crushed. But after they (customs officers) ran away, a group of youth set their vehicle ablaze.”
However, the Public Relations Officer of the Service in Katsina State, Danbaba Isa, disputed the account that the officers were pursuing a vehicle.
“What we know is that it was an accident that can occur to anyone. The accident occurred this morning after some of our officers finished eating and were returning to their checkpoint when their vehicle developed brake fault and it resulted in the accident.”
Mr Isa called on members of the public to desist from spreading unconfirmed stories.