Fifty-year-old panel beater, Moses Atanda, was recently killed in his shop by a stray bullet from a gun allegedly fired by an officer of the Nigeria Customs Service. Atanda is survived by four wives and 18 children. One of the wives, Titilayo, tells DAUD OLATUNJI how difficult it will be for the family to cope with the loss
What can you say about the death of your husband, Moses Atanda?
Our concern now is how to take care of our children; they are very young and still schooling. Some of them are learning one skill or the other and they are still apprentices. Our worry is how to survive and take care of all the children now that our breadwinner has been killed. We (wives) are four: Mrs Dupe Moses is the first wife; I am the second wife; Mrs Cecilia Moses is the third and Mrs Janet Moses is the youngest wife. Altogether, we have 18 children..
What do you all do for a living?
We are traders but we relied on our husband for sustenance. We are confused now that they have killed our breadwinner; we don’t know what to do. We don’t have anything. Our husband provided for us every day. There is no one to pay our children’s tuition and take care of their feeding.
Apart from being a panel beater, what else was your husband doing for a living?
Our husband had no other job apart from panel beating; he was never a smuggler. He even discouraged people from smuggling.
Son of Ogun panel beater: My father was eating when hit by stray bullet
Adeniyi Atanda is the 20-year-old son of Ogun panel beater, Moses Atanda, who died after he was hit by a stray bullet in Ogun.
How did your father die?
I am a painter and my shop is beside my father’s workshop. I was around when the incident happened. My father had just finished working on a vehicle when it happened. He told my younger brother, Fidel, to park the vehicle somewhere. It happened around 10am. My dad had sent someone to buy his food and Fidel had also left; it was while he was eating that the bullet hit him.
The incident happened in my presence. I saw my father fall down and I rushed to carry him. While we were taking him to the hospital, a vehicle belonging to the Nigeria Customs Service crossed our path and our driver shouted, ‘You have killed somebody.’ Then they gave way and left. At the first hospital we took him to, they told us to find where the bullet would be removed.
Why did you take him to Abeokuta from Oja-Odan?
All the hospitals here (Oja-Odan) couldn’t operate on him, so we had to travel to Abeokuta. We went to the Federal Medical Centre, Abeokuta. We were told the operation could not be done till 7pm.
What time did you arrive at the FMC, Abeokuta?
We got there around 5pm. We were there, hoping and praying till my father died around 6pm.
How would you describe your father?
My dad was well known in this area, he was loved by everyone. He was peace loving. My concern now is how his four wives and my younger siblings will survive. The government should do something to ensure they do not suffer. The threat posed by Customs officers here must stop. The killing of innocent people by Customs must stop. My dad was also responsible for taking care of his aged mother who is ill. We had to take the woman out of Oja-Odan to prevent another tragedy. My dad was the only child of his mother.
Dad was shot after telling us to hide from bullets – Son
Eighteen-year-old Gabriel Atanda tells DAUD OLATUNJI about watching his dad, Moses Atanda, die after he was allegedly hit by a stray bullet from a gun fired by the Nigeria Customs Service in Ogun
Were you there when your dad was hit by a stray bullet?
I was at my father’s shop when Customs officers started shooting in the area. My father was eating yam and stew. We wanted to go and watch the shootings as we usually did. Whenever they come here, they shoot anyhow so it is always like watching a film.
What happened afterwards?
My dad told me and the others to hide inside the shop. I had barely left the spot where I was when I saw him on the floor in a pool of blood. I called my brother and he came to carry him into a vehicle and we took him to hospital. I was working with my father at his panel beating shop.
Customs men must stop killing people like they killed dad – Daughter
Oluwaseun, 27, eldest child of Moses Atanda, Ogun panel beater allegedly killed Nigeria Customs Service, talks to DAUD OLATUNJI
How did you hear about your father’s death?
Immediately it happened, one of my younger brothers, Monday, called to inform me. He told me to meet them at the hospital my father was taken to. But when I got there, I was not allowed to go in until after a while.
What condition was your father in when you saw him?
You would hardly notice that my dad was breathing, except you looked at his stomach. They were unable to remove the bullet. They also attempted to remove the bullet, using the traditional method but the bullet didn’t come out. I was in pain seeing my father that way. They recommended that we take him for a surgery, so we went to get a police report which would be needed. We went to a hospital in Ilaro, but he was rejected there. They referred us to Abeokuta. Being a female, I was sent back home from Ilaro while the men and others took him to Abeokuta. I kept calling while they were away in Abeokuta because I was restless. When he died, no one wanted to tell me. But I got through to someone in Abeokuta who broke the news to me. You would always find my dad in his shop except when he went for a meeting or had to return a customer’s vehicle after working on it.
What is your message to the government?
We want to appeal to the government and Nigeria Customs Service to stop killing innocent people. We are not saying they should not carry out their work but they should please stop killing. We are also begging the smugglers to also stop their illegal activities. My father died prematurely; we accept our fate. We cannot move freely in the town, especially when the Customs start their trouble. Why do they shoot in the town where they know there is the likelihood of hitting innocent people?
Govt must compensate family of slain panel beater killed by Customs – Ogun monarch
The Asale of Isale Kingdom in Oja-Odan, Yewa North Local Government Area of Ogun State, Oba Ganiyu Olukunle, talks to DAUD OLATUNJI about the death of 50-year-old panel beater, Moses Atanda, who was allegedly killed by a stray bullet from a gun fired by an officer of the Nigeria Customs Service
What do you know about Moses Atanda’s death?
The initial information I got was unclear until members of the Nigeria Automobile Technicians Association came to my house; there were more than 40 of them. They said they came to inform me that they wanted to go and fight with Customs officers. They said they were tired of killings by Customs officers. Whenever Customs officers come into the town, they start shooting, even inside markets. That was what led to the death of Moses.
What do you know about the deceased?
I knew Moses very well because I was born and brought up in Oja-Odan. I knew when he was an apprentice. I asked for explanations and was told that there was a clash between Customs officers and some smugglers in the forest and that they couldn’t catch the smugglers. But we also know that Customs officers and smugglers are friends; no one truly knows what is going on between them. But our problem is that the Customs officers leave the borders and their checkpoints, come to the town and start shooting.
What did you do when you heard about the incident?
I sent one of my chiefs there to find out what happened. They said they saw lots of bullet holes on the houses in the area. They reported the matter to the police and because they needed to take Moses, who was hit by a bullet to the hospital, they requested for a police report so that hospitals would not reject him. But they were not able to remove the bullet before he died at the Federal Medical Centre in Abeokuta. They brought his corpse back to the police and they were told to take it to the mortuary.
How did his people react to his death?
When the NATA members came and told me they wanted to fight Customs officers, I told them we had already condemned the shootings by Customs. I told them that it would get worse if they faced them. I pleaded with them not to fight and promised that I would reach out to the necessary people. They agreed with me.
Have you reached out to the necessary people?
Yes, we have started doing that. The government controls all security agencies, so they need to caution them and warn them against killing people. The government must ensure they do their job the right way. Smugglers don’t pass through the town, they go through the bush and Customs officers are aware of this, so why do they come into the town to shoot? Not too long ago, they killed someone at Asa. They also killed someone at Ikotun. Those that were killed were farmers and not smugglers.
Customs officers will never kill smugglers because they are friends. Those smugglers are into smuggling because they have nothing to do. Since the border was closed, people of Oja-Odan have been maltreated. We have over two million people in Oja-Odan, yet we don’t have access to anything. You can’t get fuel in any filling station. Oja- Odan is almost 23 kilometers to the Nigerian border with Benin Republic.
Even when we go as far as Ilaro to get fuel, Customs officers will harass us. The government should call the Comptroller General of Customs and warn him because if war breaks out between the people and Customs officers, we (leaders) will not be able to do anything about it. We have been appealing to our people not to retaliate the killings but if they stop reporting to us and start defending themselves, we will not be able to do anything about it. But we don’t want bloodshed which the Customs officers have been causing. We only thank God that it did not happen on a market day; otherwise we would have recorded more deaths with the way the Customs officers were shooting anyhow.
What do you suggest?
The government should compensate the family of the deceased. Children have resumed school and their father has been killed. The government has to take care of the family he left behind. I have told NATA not to cause any trouble. The government needs to be aware and find solutions to these problems.
Customs officers are killing our people. The people here are also treated like foreigners; the government should look into this too. If Customs officers come here with five vans with 20 people each, that will be 100 people. NATA members are indigenes, if they decide to fight, it will be big and things will become terrible within 30 minutes. As a leader, I don’t want any problem; that is why we are trying to sort this out in a peaceful way.
People in government should handle this matter. My people are agitated; I can’t appeal to them any longer. We need solutions urgently. The mental state of people who apply to become security agents must be determined before they are employed. I have the name and rank of the Customs officer who shot Moses; they came in four vehicles. We couldn’t get the registration numbers of their vehicles but the Customs officer’s name is DSC Ndukwe.
Credit : punch
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