‘Angela should not die in vain’
• Council boss, traders cry for justice over young woman allegedly shot by Customs officials
WHILE leaving her home that morning, there was no inkling of danger lurking ahead of her; may be if she had stayed back, the evil would have been averted, but sadly, that was not the case. She ventured out to forage for her daily bread and the end came.
Angela Aba, 22, a native of Benue State, was one of the victims caught in the crossfire between the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and smugglers that left three dead and several others injured on Monday, February 23, 2015, at the popular Sango Motor Park on the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway, Ogun State.
It was a black Monday traders at the Sango motor park would not forget in a hurry, as hissing sounds of bullets rented the air from the customs rifles. At the end, Angela’s head was blown off with a ferocious bullet, as her grey matter littered the ground. A bus driver, a bus conductor and a lady selling clothing materials at the entrance to the garage, were also not spared from the rain of bullets.
The deceased, Angela, was a food canteen attendant, who just started working, last January, in a canteen located in the garage. According to her boss, Mrs. Serah Morakinyo, she came to work as usual that fateful day and was attending to customers who were buying food when she was assigned to prepare Eba. It was in the process, while they were together with her boss in front of the canteen that the stray bullet hit Angela straight on the forehead and killed her instantly.
Morakinyo told The Guardian that immediately the incident happened, she begged the garage boys to assist in carrying the girl towards the roadside, may be the Customs officials would assist in saving her life but despite seeing the lifeless body, they continued with their shootings and people had to scamper for safety.
She described the deceased, who was brought to her by one of her sisters, also a food vendor, as humble and hard working, whose daily pay of N500 was meant to take care of her aged mother back home, because her father had died a long time ago.
Morakinyo revealed that when the crisis subsided, the police came to pick the lifeless body to Ifo General Hospital’s morgue, where they demanded for the sum of N90,000 for autopsy and other expenses. This was shared between her and relatives of the girl. She said despite this, the police have refused to order the release of the corpse to be taken home for burial.
Eyewitness account told The Guardian that trouble started around 10am, when the NCS, attached to the Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Ikeja, Lagos, who made a large seizure of rice at Ilaro axis, were leading the seizure, comprising a truck and cars, to their office.
It was gathered that the operatives assembled the goods at Joju, in Sango area, for a final move in convoy to Ikeja, when some of the smugglers, whose consignments were among the seizure, planned to attack the operatives. This made them resort to indiscriminate shootings as soon as they got to the Sango garage, where many of the smugglers converged.
Though the NCS Federal Operation Unit, through its Public Relations Officers, Uche Ejesieme, confirmed that its officers attached to the FOU, led by Assistant Comptroller Adamu Abubakar, actually engaged some smugglers in a gun duel in the area, they denied killing anybody.
They have also failed to make public the report on what transpired between them and the smugglers, which led to the public disturbance and killing of innocent persons.
The Chairman of Ado-Odo/Ota Local Council, Rotimi Rahmon, and market leaders are appealing to the Federal Government and relevant authorities to ensure that justice prevails by fishing out those behind the dastardly act.
They are also demanding adequate compensation for families of the victims, who were cut down in their prime, adding that settlement of the hospital bills of the injured should also be handled by the NCS.
Rahman disclosed that the council had written to the Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service, Abuja, NCS, Ogun State Command and Ikeja. Also communicated were Ogun State Police Command and the state governor, Ibikunle Amosun, among others. He said so far there has been no response from the NCS.
Efforts to speak with the Ogun State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Muyiwa Adejobi, on update on the tragic incident, were futile, as calls made to his mobile phones were not answered.