Falana Demands Compensation for Families Of Lagos Stampede Victims

Two weeks after the stampede at the Nigeria Customs headquarters in Lagos, which claimed lives of some people during the distribution of seized bags of rice to Nigerians, a human rights activist and Senior lawyer, Femi Falana, has demanded for compensation for the families of the victims from the Nigeria Customs Service, (NCS).

Falana flayed the NCS authorities for failing to compensate the families of the victims since the incident occurred last month.

Falana, while speaking on Sunday, asked the NCS to “lift the suspension of the distribution of the remaining bags of rice without any further delay.”

He said, “It is sad to note that the authorities of the Nigeria Customs Service have not deemed it fit to identify the bereaved families of the deceased and commiserate with them. As a matter the deceased persons have been blamed for their ‘impatience’.

“Since it is common knowledge that similar distribution of food items to poor people had recorded stampede in the recent past, the authorities of the Nigeria Customs Service must accept full responsibility for the blatant negligence that led to the avoidable death of the seven citizens.

“Since a bag of rice was selling for N77,000 at the material time, it ought to have occurred to the Nigeria Customs Service that its Zonal Headquarters in Yaba would not be able to contain the crowd that had been invited to purchase a 25kg bag of rice at N10,000.

“Therefore, the authorities of the Nigeria Customs Service should take urgent steps to identify the bereaved families of the seven deceased citizens with a view to paying them adequate monetary compensation.

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“However, if our advice is ignored by the authorities, we shall not hesitate to approach the Federal High Court to enforce the fundamental right of each of the deceased persons to life as guaranteed by section 33 of the Nigerian Constitution and article 4 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.”

According to Falana, the distribution should be carried out through the appropriate local government councils and local government development areas in Lagos State and other states to avoid another stampede.

On February 23, 2024, some persons lost their lives in a stampede during the purchase of seized rice put on sale by the NCS in Lagos. Thousands of people turned up for the subsidized goods at the Customs’ Zonal Office on Harvey Road, Yaba, Lagos, with a 25kg bag of rice sold for N10,000.

The tragic incident led to the immediate suspension of the food disposal initiative by the Customs.

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