A Customs officer identified as Ade, has killed a middle aged woman in a commuter bus.
The incident happened when the Customs officer tried to intercept a suspected smuggler around Ilashe area of Ipokia Local Government Area of Ogun State, southwest Nigeria.
The victim, a mother of five children, Fausat Bankole, sold fruits and vegetables and was on her way to Ihunbo market when she was killed.
According to an eye witness who craved for anonymity, “The Customs officers were at their check point and had already stopped and checked the bus the deceased was in.
And as the bus was about to move, a motorcycle rider conveying some bags of rice suspected to have been smuggled, was ordered to stop but he refused to stop. So, Ade, the Customs officer, shot at the rider and a stray bullet hit Fausat inside the bus and she died.”
Following the incident, youths in the area barricaded the busy Idiroko road. However, the arrival of anti-riot policemen prevented the situation from degenerating into violence.
The husband of a victim, Mr. Bankole, who is also a trader, was too shocked to believe that his wife was dead. He declined a press interview.
However, a member of the family, Mr. Ogunwusi Ajibade, described the late Fausat as a pillar of the family.
“She was a hard working woman. She took care of everyone with the little money she made from selling farm products. She was going to Ihunbo market when she was killed by the Customs officer.”
The first child of the deceased, Rilwan Bankole, 21, narrated the last conversation with his mother on the fateful day before she left for the market. “We did general fasting. We all prayed around 12 midnight and we woke up by 5am this morning (Thursday) to eat.
After eating, she told me that she was going to the market and that she would flash me so that I can wake the children up in case they sleep again so that they can prepare and go to school.
After 6 a.m. I did not notice her flashing or call so I asked my junior ones to prepare and go to school. It was only Semiat, who is writing her NECO exam today, and myself that were left at home when I heard people crying outside our house.
Initially I did not care to know who was crying but one of my friends later ran to me and said he heard that the vehicle my mother entered had an accident. I immediately broke down and the people around held me up. That is all I know about the tragedy.”
Reacting to the incident in a statement, the Customs Public Relations Officer in charge of Ogun State Command, DSC Chike Ngige, said the officer that pulled the trigger has been detained and that he is facing an orderly room trial.
According to Ngige, “In the early hours of 20th June, 2013, 600am to be precise, our patrol team on information patrol along Ilashe area of Idiroko/Owodo Road, Ipokia Local Government Area, accosted a suspected vehicle.
The driver of the vehicle tried to escape, to avoid proper Customs checks, and that prompted one of the patrol officers to aim the tyre of the vehicle to demobilise it. The bullet re-bounded on the hard surface of the road and hit a lady inside another vehicle.
The lady was immediately rushed to the Customs clinic at Idiroko for urgent medical attention, but she died shortly after arrival at the clinic. “Meanwhile the Area Controller, Ogun State Command is on top of the situation.
The officer who released the fatal shots has been identified, and he is presently under detention.”
Ngige further stated that “the Controller has constituted an immediate Orderly Room Trial panel to interrogate the officer to ascertain his level of culpability, and if he is found culpable, he will be dismissed by Customs Service, and he will be subsequently handed over to the police for possible prosecution.
The police were called in by the Controller to help maintain peace and return normalcy to the restive area.
“Meanwhile, the Controller has held several meetings with the deceased family, the traditional ruler, and the community leaders of the community where the deceased hails from.
The controller has therefore, asked the general public, particularly members of the affected community to remain calm, and to go about their normal businesses, as efforts are being made to ensure that justice is seen to be done.”
Fausat left behind five children, namely Rilwan, 21, Semiat,17, Memunat, 15, Mojeed, 10, and Balques, 7, including Mr. Bankole, her husband.