A suspected smuggler was shot dead yesterday during a gun fight with men of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) at the Sango-Ota axis of Ogun State. A few weeks ago, two men were killed in Abeokuta, the state capital, when Customs officials reportedly opened fire on them.
In yesterday’s incident, which occurred about 9a.m., a Customs official was injured while five other officers were said to be missing.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, one of the affected officers, who said he escaped death narrowly, explained that five of his colleagues were missing in action. A patrol van belonging to the NCS was set ablaze during the clash while four other vehicles, including an operational vehicle of the agency, were also vandalised. It was learnt that the clash erupted when hoodlums believed to be smugglers ambushed the convoy of NCS operatives from the Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Lagos.
The Customs men had seized 45 bags of 50-kilogramme rice and 258 cartons of frozen turkey allegedly smuggled through the Republic of Benin. Witnesses said there was a gun fight between the Customs men and the smugglers, which led to the death of one of the suspects. Irked by the killing, the smugglers mobilised and headed to the Customs checkpoint at Atan area on Sango-Idiroko Road, where they beat a Customs official to coma and set his Toyota Camry car ablaze.
When contacted, the Customs Public Relations Officer, Ogun Area Command, Abdulahi Maiwada, confirmed the incident.
Maiwada said the suspected smugglers, armed with dangerous weapons, ambushed the FOU operatives at the Toll Gate area on their way to the Customs warehouse in Lagos.
According to him, the smugglers conveyed the contraband in a Mazda car marked KTU 504 AM and an unregistered Passat car.