NIWA: 3 persons drown, 17 rescue in Lagos

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…As Kano Customs Command loses officer to rice smugglers***

The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Mr Tayo Fadile on Saturday appealed to boat operators to desist from travelling on waterways, in the night, particularly after 6 p.m.

Fadile, made the appeal while commiserating with the Lagos State Government over a boat mishap in which three persons drowned at Bayeku in Ikorodu, Lagos State, stressing NIWA’s safety guidelines.

“The boat which took off in the evening of Saturday from Okeranla in Ajah heading to Bayeku in Ikorodu ran into a heap of a dredged sand and capsized.

“The Area Office of NIWA in Lagos, when contacted, immediately deployed the water ambulance boat with the search and rescue team to the scene of the mishap and the team were able to rescue 17 passengers alive and three dead bodies.

“We will like to appeal to the general public, especially waterways users, to strictly adhere to NIWA safety guidelines, especially for boat operators to stop traveling in the evening after 6 p.m.,” Fadile said.

According to him, we were reliably informed by NIWA Lagos Area Office that a 20-passenger boat owned by Mr Kasali, a member of Association of Tourist Boat Operators and Water Transport of Nigeria (ATBOANTON) had capsized.

He, however, said that NIWA would continue to encourage boat operators to do the right thing and reduce the incessant boat mishap on the waterways by adhering to safety regulations as stipulated by NIWA.

Meanwhile, according to the Kano/Jigawa Customs Area Command’s Public Relations Officer, Mr Isah Danbaba, officers and operatives were fast becoming endangered species, freely hounded by dare-devil smugglers in Kano and Jigawa states.

Already, an officer of the Command was killed by a speeding rice- laden vehicle on January 31,  while another was earlier attacked January 26, while lending a helping hand to an accident victim.

Mr Isah Danbaba in a statement in Kano on Monday noted that some customs operatives came under attack on Saturday, Jan 26, while waiting to execute an information on suspected smuggled vehicles which resulted from an accident involving a blue Volksgen Golf Car not too far from the location of the customs officers.

But when the Federal Road Safety Commission officers who arrived the scene of the accident sought the assistance of the customs operatives to evacuate the injured to the nearest hospital, the suspected smugglers pounced on them, thinking that the operatives were on their trail to arrest them.

And while the melee was going on, the suspected smugglers, who did not want customs officials along the road, mobilised  an attack on the operatives claiming that they were the ones who caused the accident.

“Even the driver of the accident car vehemently denied the smugglers’ claim.

“He said the attack left one of the customs officials seriously injured, while the personal belongings of the operatives burnt.

“Again, in a nother development, the Area Command had on Thursday, January 31, lost an officer who was hit by a fast speeding rice smuggler,” he said.

“The Customs Area Controller, Nasir Ahmed, wishes to express his dismay over the lawless acts and call on parents and cimmunity leaders to call their wards to order.

“He assured that the mastermind would be fished out and prosecuted,  adding that henthforth the Command will not hesitate to use appropriate force to deal with this disturbing development”, Danbaba said further, warning that “Smuggling is a heinous crime and it is the duty of the Nigeria Customs Service to stop it”, and any attempt to obstruct the statutory duty would be dealt with decisively.