What Customs Said About Alleged Killing Of Rice Smuggler In Lagos
Warning: Graphic photo below.
Residents of Abule Egba woke up on Wednesday, January 17th to a disheartening situation.
A young man lay in a pool of blood inside a bus carrying foreign rice, with the vehicle vandalised.
His loved ones and family members were crying and mourning. They claimed operatives of the Nigeria Custom Service (NCS) had killed the man while trying to intercept the bus, believed to be in the business of rice smuggling.
After several reports on the matter were published, the NCS released a statement, through its spokesman, Jerry Attah, telling their own side of the story.
The agency, which is in charge of Nigeria's borders, accepted that its officials chased the rice smuggler to Abule Egba, but accused reporters of giving fake information.
It said its attention had been drawn to reports by some online media to the effect that some Officers of Federal Operations Unit, Zone A, shot one unknown smuggler whose bus was conveying smuggled rice at the Abule Egba area of Lagos State.
The statement read: "The report is the figment of the reporter’s imagination, which is capable of misleading the general public hence the need to state the true facts as follow: a. On the 17th of January 2018, at about 0530hrs, Operatives of the Federal Operations Unit acting on a tip-off traced one LT Bus Loaded with unspecified bags of smuggled foreign parboiled rice from Sango Area and eventually stopped it at Abule Egba.
"b. Before he was finally halted at Abule Egba, the driver started shouting and making inciting comments that attracted mob action against the officers with different dangerous weapons such as broken bottles, stones and cutlasses. Obviously, he had driven to where he could get his associates to help attack the Customs Officers.
"c. Given support of the mob, he resisted lawful arrest and the other armed operatives fired shots in the air to disperse the raging mob but to no avail. As a responsible organization, the Officers retracted back to avoid any casualty. We appreciate and thank God that no life was lost as at the time of the confrontation even though two of our Officers sustained injuries".
Bounce News had questioned why it was possible for foreign rice to pass through a border manned by customs officials who now also engaged in chasing the vehicle within town, and the agency responded to that question.
It wrote: "For the avoidance of doubt, the fact that a smuggler has evaded scrutiny either by following unapproved route or compromising any Officer does not guarantee that the smuggled item will not be seized anywhere it is found by patrol officers whose duty is to ensure compliance".
The statement further said that the Controller, Federal Operations Unit, Zone ‘A’ Ikeja, Comptroller Mohammed Uba, while lamenting the misleading report urged media practitioners to verify their facts before rushing to the press.
While the customs try to set the records straight, a few things were not captured in their statement.
The agency did not state whether it was better to run from hoodlums after they had chased a vehicle from Ogun State to Lagos State when they could have rendered the vehicle immobile, retreat, call for backup and afterwards make sure that the smuggled rice was seized.
Was the possibility of encountering hoodlums not considered while they made the chase?
What is not also clear is whether the owners of the bus or hoodlums they had invited to help them resist customs as claimed will turn around and kill the occupant of the vehicle.
Will they also turn around and vandalise the vehicle carrying rice believed to have been smuggled in the midst of their pains over the death of the young man?
More questions are begging for answers.
See pictures of the vehicle which is a Ford bus and not an LT bus as indicated in the statement.