OPERATIVES of the Nigeria Customs Service have allegedly killed six people and injured more than 20 after their vehicle veered off the road and crashed into people in Jibia town, Katsina State.
It was reported that the Customs operatives were chasing a smuggler driving a J5 Peugeot that refused to stop at one of the checkpoints immediately close to Jibia.
The Public Relations Officer of NCS, in Katsina State, Danbaba Isa, disputed the account that officers were pursuing a vehicle.
He said “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”.
Meanwhile, sources in the town said the accident occurred while some officials of the NCS were a vehicle they suspected was involved in rice smuggling on Monday.
A trader, Kabir Jibia, who witnessed the accident, said it occurred around 8 a.m.
Jibia said, “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 the 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.”
“I was told that more of them have died but I cannot confirm that because I did not follow them to the hospital,” a resident of the town, Almustapha Danye, said.
Danye explained that 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,” he added.
Jibia is on the Nigerian border with Niger Republic and many of its residents engaging in cross-border trades.