By Olufemi Adediran, Abeokuta
A bloody clash between Custom offcials and some suspected smugglers on Tuesday has left one person dead in Sango-Ota, Ogun State.
Custom officers from the Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Ikeja, Lagos were said to have been conveying seized 45 bags of rice and 258 cartons containing turkey when they were attacked by smugglers at the Toll-Gate area of the town.
The items were said to have been seized from smugglers on the Sango-Idiroko road.
According to an eye witness, the hoodlums ambushed the custom men at the Toll-Gate and attacked them with various dangerous objects.
The smugglers were said to have also later attacked the Customs check point at Atan area along Sango-Idi Iroko road, and set two vehicles belonging to the customs and a civilian ablaze after destroying the check point.
Confirming the incident to journalists, the Public Relations officer of the Ogun State Command of Nigeria Customs, Mr. Abdulahi Aliyu Maiwada explained, “The Federal Operations Unit (FOU) from Ikeja in Lagos State, had intercepted and seized two vehicles loaded with bags of rice and cartons of turkey in Sango area and they were ambushed at the Toll Gate area on their way to Customs warehouse in Lagos”.
He added that the smugglers, driving a Mazda car marked, KTU 504 AM and an unregistered Passat car were transporting 45 bags of rice and 258 cartons of turkey respectively when they were intercepted by the custom men.
Maiwada confirmed the death of one person but said who fired the shot that killed the victim was yet to be established, saying the hoodlums were armed with guns and other dangerous weapons.
He, however, said that the customs operatives were able to transport the seized goods to the warehouse in Ikeja.
“The clash at the Toll Gate was as a result of some hoodlums we believed to be smugglers, waylaid the FOU team on its way to Ikeja and launched a surprise attack on the team. In the melee that ensued, one person was confirmed dead but where the shot that killed him came from is yet to be ascertained.
“The team had intercepted two vehicles loaded with contraband – 45 bags of rice and 258 cartons of turkey and the mob attacked them probably to prevent them from taking the goods to Ikeja. When their ambush fell through, the hoodlums stormed our check point at Atan and set three vehicles belonging to customs and a civilian in the area”, Maiwada submitted.
In February this year, men from the State Command of the Customs shot and killed an alleged rice smuggler, an incident which nearly resulted in the burning down of the Customs office in Abeokuta, the State capital.
Few days earlier, there was a serious face-off between Custom officials who stormed the Sango market to seize alleged smuggled rice and some set of hoodlums.