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A passenger, Toheeb Olayiwola, was killed  yesterday during a chase of some suspected rice smugglers by some Customs
Two others were injured in the incident which happened at Abule-Egba on the Lagos – Abeokiuta Expressway.
Witnesses said operatives of the Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Zone A, Ikeja, of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) were on the trail of the LT bus suspected to be conveying smuggled rice.
The FOU oversees Customs operations in Lagos and Ogun states.
The Customs men chased the   bus from Sango-Ota  in  Ogun State to Abule-Egba, Lagos.
Traffic stood still, with people scampering to safety as guns boomed.
Some witnesses told our correspondent that the late Olayiwola was a passenger and not a smuggler.
One of the passengers, Yemi Saheed, said: “The vehicle is a commercial bus and we were coming from Sango-Ota and the driver of the bus stopped when he noticed the Customs vans trailing the bus. While we were still inside the bus, the driver alighted to inquire why he was being followed and about six Customs men that alighted from their vans surrounded our bus and shot indiscriminately killing the boy (Olayiwola), who was also a passenger.”
The  driver, Ajayi Olayinka, said he was conveying the rice to Agege for the owner.
He said: “I am not a smuggler and I don’t ply the Idiroko border route. I ply Sango-Agege route every day and I am used to carrying goods including foodstuff for traders and passengers who purchased them at Sango Market. I had just five passengers and about 10 bags of rice which a trader asked me to convey to Agege. Suddenly, I noticed that some Customs men riding in two operational vehicles were following me and I stopped at Abule-Egba to inquire from them why they were trailing me unnecessarily.
‘’Two of the Customs men blocked my vehicle and demanded to know what I was having in the bus and I told them that I was conveying 10 bags of rice for a passenger.  As I was trying to explain further, their colleagues came down from their vans and shot indiscriminately at my bus knowing full well that there were passengers inside the vehicle. In the process, three passengers were hit while they beat me with the butt of their rifles. Unfortunately, one of the passengers, a boy, who was shot in the head died instantly while two others who sustained gunshot injuries have been taken to a General Hospital. And knowing the consequences of what they did, the Customs men immediately shot into the air and escaped from the scene.
The late Olayiwola’s brother, who identified himself as Muyideen at the scene, said the deceased’s widow was delivered of a  baby last Saturday.

The body has been deposited at the Ikeja General Hospital morgue.
The incident sparked public outrage, but Rapid Response Squad (RRS) operatives promptly moved in to douse tension.
In a statement yesterday,  FOU’s Public Relations Officer, Mr. Jerry Attah,  said the Customs operatives were attacked by  suspected smugglers, who attempted   to resist arrest.
He said a bus with unspecified bags of rice was being trailed by the Customs men  when the smugglers resorted to confrontation.
He said no one was killed in the clash.

The statement reads : ‘’  On January 17 (yesterday), at about 05:30am, operatives of the FOU, 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.
‘’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.
‘’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 organisation, the officers retreated 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.
‘’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.’’

Lagos Police spokesman, Mr. Chike Oti, a Superintendent (SP),  said: ‘’What happened was that some unidentified operatives of Customs Federal Operations Unit allegedly chased suspected smugglers around Abule-Egba area and allegedly opened fire on the vehicle thereby killing one of the people inside the bus by name Toheeb Olayiwola.
‘’ The body of the victim has been taken to the mortuary by an ambulance attached to the Lagos State Task Force, Alausa, Ikeja.’’

The FOU Controller,  Mohammed Uba,  urged people to verify their facts before reacting to any development.

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