The Untold Story of a Customs Officer’s Death in the Hands of Soldiers

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Friday August 11, 2017 was like any other day but it was a day the family and loved ones of an officer of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Baba Nwaguyawo will prefer he was not on duty.

Until his death, Nwaguyawo with service number 53225 was an anti-smuggling operative of the Federal Operations Unit, Zone A, Ikeja, Lagos.

He was on duty alongside his colleagues to execute one of the key functions of the service, anti-smuggling when trouble started. It was a tragedy as he lost his life in active service in attempt to stop smugglers of contraband into the country led by soldiers.

The convoy was being piloted by a team of military men led by one Captain A.M Murnai with Force number 45EB/15FER with Army operation vehicle number NA2021B05

Apparently buoyed by the fact that the Comptroller General of Customs, Colonel Ibrahim Hameed Ali (retired) is one of their own, the soldiers who led the convoy of the smuggled vehicles through Nigeria’s busiest border, Seme did not stop for any checking and when Nwaguyawo tried to stop them in line with the anti-smuggling campaign of the Customs High Command, he was swiftly crushed to death at Agbara, a boundary town between Ogun and Lagos States.

It was a sorry sight to behold as Nwaguyawo’s colleagues who were on duty with him tried to pull his badly maimed body out of the road. It was a futile exercise. Nwaguyawo eventually kicked the bucket as he could not make it.

That was how a promising life was truncated by those who were given a responsibility to protect lives and property. For Nwaguyawo not to die in vain, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) must do everything possible to ensure that the unfortunate and untimely death of one of their own do not end up like that of an ordinary chicken. Ali must not allow Nwaguyawo to die in vain. No effort should be spared to wipe away the tears of the family the slain officer left behind.

He must not die in vain. His family deserve justice. Those who killed Nwaguyawo must not be allowed to go scot free in the name of spirit de corps by Ali former colleagues in the Nigerian Army. The death of Nwaguyawo in active service must not be allowed to join the growing list of Nigerians who have lost their lives in similar circumstances over the years without justice. The blood of Nwaguyawo is crying for justice. As Nwaguyawo loved ones, especially his wife and children continue to mourn the untimely death of their bread winner, the soldiers who perpetrated the dastardly act should not only be punished but be seen to be punished. That is the only way the soul of Nwaguyawo can rest in peace.

The death of Nwaguyawo has brought to the fore once more the appointment of Ali who was in his he days was the military administrator of Kaduna as the CGC. Not a few have argued that the death of Nwaguyawo would have been treated differently if the CGC was a serving or retired Customs Officer. This is not unconnected with the fact that Ali is said to be torn between satisfying his former colleagues in the Nigerian Army and the NCS. There is no doubt that Ali is in a dilemma.  The explanation of the NCS on the matter did not help matters.

According to the Public Relations Officer (PRO), NCS Headquarters, Abuja, Mr. Joseph Attah, investigation is being carried out in conjunction with the Nigerian Army.

Attah, who described the incident as unfortunate however assured that those found culpable will be brought to justice. He did not mention how long this will take. It is over two weeks he made the statement, yet he is yet to give the public update on the incident. All hands must be on deck to ensure that Nwaguyawo did not die in vain.

His words: “We lost an officer in that unfortunate incident and the authorities of the Army and the Customs Service are working on it and investigations is going on and those found wanting will be dealt with according to the law”.