Following the alleged killing of one Godwin Onoja by an operative of the Federal Operations Unit (FOU) A, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), on Sunday in Ogun State, the service has detained four of its officers over the incident.
In a press statement obtained by Daily Sun yesterday, the public relations officer of the command, DC Joseph Attah, said the service was in touch with the bereaved family of the deceased.
According to Attah, the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), has set up a panel, led by the Zonal Coordinator, A, to investigate the killing and vowed that any officer caught on the wrong side would be punished with accordingly.
Reports said a Customs officer, ASCI Destiny Onebamho, on Sunday, shot dead a “Customs friend” during an argument with commuters in a passenger bus in an attempt to intercept bales of used clothing.
Attah, the Customs spokesman, said: “Following the unfortunate incident on Sunday, February 17, 2019, at Sagamu interchange involving operatives of the Federal Operations Unit, Zone A, which led to the death of a fellow citizen, Mr. Godwin Agada Onoja, the Nigeria Customs Service has continued to maintain close contact with the bereaved family.
“We are pained by this sad development and share the grief of losing a fellow compatriot in a seemingly avoidable circumstance. We are and will continue to take every necessary step that will cushion the pain associated with losing a dear one. Consequently, the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (rtd), has directed a thorough investigation into the immediate and remote causes of the incident, with the view to ensuring that justice is served.”
The PRO promised that the outcome of the probe would be made public for all Nigerians, adding that the officer whose rifle discharged would also face the panel as soon as he is fit.
“In line with this directive, the investigation panel, headed by the Zonal Coordinator, Zone A, ACG Kaycee Ekekezie, has interrogated and detained four members of the patrol team.
“The panel could not immediately conclude the investigation because the actual officer (ASCI Destiny Onebamho) whose rifle discharged is presently receiving medical attention as a result of the attack following the unfortunate incident. He will face the panel as soon as he is fit to do so, to enable the panel conclude investigation and recommend appropriate action(s).
“NCS is a reputable organisation known for integrity and responsibility. In line with our corporate values, we will not shield any operative found wanting in this ongoing investigation. The service appreciates the public concern and strong emotions drawn from the viral video, with narratives that created various opinions.”
Nigerians would recall that, in 2017, the NCS made public its investigation and dismissal of five officers implicated in the illegal release of the 661-pump-action rifles from Apapa Port. The dismissed officers were immediately handed over for prosecution alongside the importer and agent. The trial is ongoing at the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos.
Meanwhile, the African Bar Association (ABA) has condemned the killing of Onoja by men of the NCS in Sagamu, on February 17, 2019.
In a statement issued by the chairman, Justice Sector Reform Commission of ABA, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, the body described the shooting by the Customs men as summary execution, which called for worry, especially in a country where the misuse of firearms by security personnel has been on the increase.
“In the video of the shooting that trended on the social media, the lifeless body of the deceased could be seen on the ground, with blood around the neck areas,” ABA said.
But in its official response, the Customs Service claimed to be preventing smuggling, leading to ‘accidental discharge.’ It claimed that the victim was an errand boy who served the officers when they retired home.