Six people reportedly killed as Nigerian customs officers chased rice smugglers in Katsina

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Six people have now been confirmed dead and more than 20 others injured after a Nigerian Customs Service Hilux van rammed into a roadside population in the town of Jibia, Katsina state, early Monday morning .

Jibia sits on the Nigerian border with the Republic of Niger and many of its residents trade across borders.

Several city sources who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES said the crash happened as agents for some customers were chasing a Peugeot J5 bus they suspected of being involved in smuggling rice.

“The driver lost control of the vehicle and hit people standing by the side of the road,” said town resident Almustapha Danye.

“Six people died instantly while the injured were transported to Jibia hospital. I was told that more of them were dead, but I cannot confirm this as I did not follow them to the hospital.

How did it happen

A trader, Kabir Jibia, who witnessed the crash, said it happened around 8 a.m.

“The owner of the J5 Peugeot is among those who buy corn from the town of Dandume and bring it here (Jibia) to sell. They normally give money to customs officials, although what they do is not contraband.

“But this J5 driver refused to stop at a checkpoint immediately after Batsari on the way to Jibia.

“They followed him from their checkpoint into town and it was while they were chasing him that the vehicle hit passers-by.”

Mr Jibia, who also said he witnessed the crash, said: “The driver of the J5 knows the city very well and had already run away from customs officials.”

Mr Danye, for his part, said customs officials fled as soon as they jumped from the vehicle involved in the crash.

“Initially, people were trying to save those who were crushed. But after they (the customs officers) fled, a group of young people set their vehicle on fire.

TEXEM

Customs react

However, the Service’s public relations officer in Katsina State, Danbaba Isa, disputed the account that the police were chasing a vehicle.

“What we do know is that it was an accident that can happen to anyone. The accident happened this morning after some of our officers had finished eating and were returning to their checkpoints when their vehicle developed brake failure which resulted in the accident.

Mr Isa called on members of the public to refrain from broadcasting unconfirmed stories.

Editor’s Note: This story has been rewritten with more information.

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