Home News Impatience of residents led to stampede at Lagos rice-sharing venue — Customs
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Impatience of residents led to stampede at Lagos rice-sharing venue — Customs

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Customs

Following the stampede, which occurred in Lagos during the sale of 25kg bags of rice to Lagos residents, several injuries and casualties resulted. The incident has prompted scrutiny over the handling of the distribution by Customs officials.

According to the Punch, Abdullahi Maiwada, Customs spokesperson, noted that the crowd’s impatience caused the stampede. Maiwada stated that despite efforts to manage the crowd, the situation escalated when individuals became restless, leading to the breaking of fences and attempts to access the rice containers.

“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, and 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,” Maiwada explained.

He added, “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. At a point, we used our ambulance and took them to the hospital.”

Maiwada, however, did not provide precise statistics on the casualties but expressed condolences to the families of the victims. “I don’t have the statistics of the lives we have lost, but we made efforts for everyone to be orderly and to rescue them. We took them to the hospital. What do you want us to do?” he stated.

Regarding the location choice for the event, Maiwada clarified that Yaba was selected due to the absence of Customs facilities, aiming to prevent potential damage to their property. He emphasised that the Customs did not intend for the tragic outcome and asserted that lessons had been learned to avoid similar incidents in the future.

“It is regrettable; it is something we wished did not happen, and we are very pathetic about it. We are with them in this trying situation,” he conveyed sympathetically to the victims’ families.

When questioned about the exact number of deaths resulting from the stampede, Maiwada remained ambiguous, neither confirming nor denying reports of seven fatalities. He stressed that regardless of the count, every loss of life is significant and regrettable.

“I can neither confirm nor deny the number (of deaths). I don’t have that data now, but people say seven. It’s not true, it’s not up to that number but even if it’s one, yes, it’s life. But these are the circumstances that led to what happened, they were avoidable,” he concluded.

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