Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun state has condemned the Nigeria Customs Service, whose officers reportedly shot dead two persons, while attempting to intercept smuggled rice at Kobape, along the Abeokuta-Siun interchange expressway.
The Governor, in a statement by the Secretary to the State Government, Taiwo Adeoluwa, said he does not support any act of sabotage, but will not tolerate acts of recklessness and unprofessional conduct of some of the Customs officers in the state.
Report of the incident reaching the state government, according to the Governor have it that some Customs officers suspecting a car was carrying bags of smuggled rice along the expressway, shot at it, and in the process, killed the driver and another person instantly.
The Governor explained that the Customs officers on seeing the consequence of their action, immediately abandoned the chase of the car and fled the scene.
According to the Governor, it took the intervention of a delegation of the state government and security agencies including the Army, Police, Department of Security Service, TRACE and others, that visited the scene on his instruction, to douse the tension created by the incident.
Before then, Amosun said that aggrieved motorists and residents had blocked the expressway for over three hours, protesting the killing.
Urging people in the state to remain calm, the Governor said the state government expects the Custom service to investigate the incident and punish the officers responsible for the killing according to the law of the land.
One of the protesters, Shola Josiah, who spoke with journalists said that a 37 year-old victim, Saubana, was among four other drivers who were carrying 25 bags of rice each from Kuto, Abeokuta to Sagamu when the Customs men accosted them.
He added that Customs intercepted them at Sowo Village along around 9:30a.m Kobape road and gave them a hot chase.
His words, “We had left Kuto Market in Abeokuta with our vehicles loaded with 25 bags of rice each. When we got to Sowo Village we saw Customs’ vehicle with men inside it.”
“I thought there won’t be any issue because we normally pay them N5,000 on each trip. Before I knew what was happening, they had started giving us hot chase. They caught up with me, while Saubana’s car tyres were blown out with gun shot and his Mazda 626 car eventually somersaulted into a ditch”, Josiah stated.
He, however, alleged that customs operative still shot Saubana at close range, after bullet had hit him around the thigh and managed to crawl out the car wreckage.
Josiah, who said his vehicle was seized and driven to the state Command of the customs, stated that two other drivers escaped. He lamented Saubana’s death noting the father of four was an easy going person.