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Nigeria Customs Service’s Response to Tragic Stampede



Nigeria Customs Service's Response to Tragic Stampede
Wema Bank Alat

The recent tragic stampede at the Nigeria Customs Service’s food disposal initiative in Yaba, Lagos State, resulting in the loss of seven lives, has prompted a swift and responsible response from the organization. The National Public Relations Officer, Abdullahi Maiwada, announced the suspension of the rice distribution program, highlighting the service’s dedication to putting Nigerians’ safety and welfare first.




Initiated as a response to the pressing issues of food security and rising food prices in Nigeria, the program aimed to directly dispose of forfeited food items to the Federal Government. The distribution of 25kg of rice at a discounted price of N10,000 was intended to benefit the vulnerable and improve their livelihoods. However, the unforeseen events that transpired during the distribution highlighted the importance of careful planning and execution for such initiatives.



The statement by Mr. Maiwada acknowledging the challenges faced during the distribution, including the depletion of rice stocks and the subsequent desperation among the crowd, reflects a transparent approach to addressing the incident. The decision to suspend the program temporarily, pending a thorough internal investigation to ascertain the circumstances leading to the stampede, demonstrates a commitment to accountability and learning from past mistakes.



The Nigeria Customs Service’s assurance to work closely with hospital authorities to support the families of the deceased and provide assistance to the victims is a commendable step towards addressing the aftermath of the tragedy. By engaging directly with the affected families and offering support, the service aims to demonstrate empathy and responsibility in the face of adversity.



In response to criticisms regarding the pricing and distribution of the rice, the service spokesperson clarified that the funds collected from the sales were directed to the federation account, aligning with the organization’s regulations. The decision to sell the rice at a discounted price was aimed at both generating revenue for the government and enabling indigents to afford the essential food item. While the value of revenue generated through the program may be modest compared to overall revenue collection, the initiative’s intent to recoup the duty value on the forfeited items reflects a strategic approach to resource management.



The acknowledgment of the need for a comprehensive review of the program’s implementation, including the decision-making process and crowd management strategies, underscores the service’s commitment to learning from the incident and preventing similar tragedies in the future. By prioritizing safety, accountability, and transparency in its operations, the Nigeria Customs Service sets a precedent for responsible governance and public service.



As the organization navigates the aftermath of the stampede and works towards resuming the food disposal initiative, it is imperative to incorporate lessons learned and implement robust measures to ensure the safety and well-being of all stakeholders involved. The tragic events of February 23 serve as a sobering reminder of the importance of effective planning, communication, and risk management in public service initiatives, particularly those aimed at addressing critical societal needs.



In conclusion, the Nigeria Customs Service’s response to the stampede incident reflects a commitment to upholding safety, accountability, and transparency in its operations. By prioritizing the well-being of Nigerians and engaging in a process of internal review and improvement, the organization demonstrates a dedication to learning from past experiences and enhancing its services for the benefit of all.

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