One Dead as Customs, Smugglers Clash in Ogun

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Eromosele Abiodun

There was pandemonium yesterday in Owode, Ogun State when irate youths protested at the office of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) located in Ajileti following an unsuccessful raid on a Celestial Church of Christ (CCC) parish by Customs officers on Monday which left one of the smugglers sustaining gunshot wound.

Customs officials had stormed the church on Monday after discovering loads of smuggled bags of rice hidden in vehicles parked inside the church premises by suspected smugglers but were unable to cart away the banned items due to resistance by irate youths purportedly mobilised by the smugglers.

One of the youths explained that Customs officers shot and killed one Kunle on Monday after youths tried to stop the Customs officials from carrying out a raid in the house of God, the CCC church.

“They wanted to ransack the house of God, but we stopped them and they started shooting. One of our colleagues, Kunle is dead. We have mobilised today to teach them a lesson, ”he said

When contacted, the spokesman of the Ogun State Command of the NCS, Abdullahi Aliyu Maiwada, explained that Customs officers shot in self-defence after being attacked by the youths mobilised by the smugglers.

Maiwada stated that, “As I speak to you, the situation is still not under control because a mob is threatening to attack our formation in Ajileti. The genesis of the whole issue started on Monday when our officers attempted to evacuate smuggled bags of rice from a CCC church in Owode. The smugglers mobilised the youths of the town and they attacked our men with dangerous weapons.

“Our men had to defend themselves by shooting to scare away the marauding mob. The youths attacked our officers with guns, stones, cutlasses and many other dangerous weapons. We had to defend ourselves, and our only means of defence is our rifles. Our officers had to do what we call ‘tactical withdrawal’ on Monday. Our men shot in the air to disperse the marauding mob and later withdrew back to our formation.”

“Our rules of engagement allow our men to use their rifles if every other means of reconciliation fails. We needed to control the situation and defend ourselves. All this happened yesterday (Monday). However, today (Tuesday), the youths again mobilised themselves and started doing stop and search, looking for Customs officers to maim, because they were all armed with dangerous weapons.

“As I am talking to you, this mob has closed down the roads, looking for our men to attack. The situation is not currently under control and most of our men have withdrawn to Ajileti for safety reasons. Right now, we hear that the Army and Police are battling to prevent them from advancing to Ajileti,” he said.

He added that, “On January 5, 2019, we lost one of our officers to smugglers-induced mob action, and we would not allow such situation to repeat itself again.”