April 18, 2024

NCS Halts Rice Distribution After Stampede, Promises Investigation

 

 

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has suspended the distribution of 25kg bags of rice after a tragic stampede occurred during the initiative at its Zonal Headquarters in Yaba, Lagos State. The suspension aims to prioritize the safety of Nigerians and allow the service to review its next steps without compromising the initiative’s vision.

 

The NCS had announced the direct disposal of forfeited food items to the Federal Government to address food security challenges and soaring costs of essential items. The rice distribution, which commenced on February 23 at a discounted price of N10,000 in Lagos, was intended to benefit the most vulnerable.

 

Regrettably, during the pilot distribution, the bags of rice went out of stock, leading to desperation among the crowd. A stampede ensued, resulting in fatalities and injuries. The NCS, in response to the incident, has initiated an internal investigation to understand the circumstances surrounding the tragedy.

 

The service expresses condolences to the families of the deceased and assures them of unwavering support. Efforts are being made to establish contact with the victims’ families and provide assistance.

 

Addressing criticisms about selling the rice instead of giving it free to the vulnerable, the NCS spokesperson clarifies that the items have monetary value, and selling them at a discounted price aims to recoup the value of duty that would have been collected if the items were imported. Despite the revenue being inconsequential compared to overall collections, the discounted price was intended to make the rice affordable to indigents.

 

The NCS emphasizes that the suspension is temporary, allowing for a thorough investigation and necessary adjustments to ensure the safety and success of the initiative.

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