BY FEMI OYEWESO, Abeokuta
Two members of a smuggling syndicate were confirmed dead, while five security operatives sustained varying degrees of gun wounds following a deadly attack launched against personnel of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) on Thursday at the Oja Odan township of Yewa North local government area of Ogun State.
The security operatives that sustained gun wounds included four Customs operatives, a personnel of the Nigerian Army and five civilians who were assisting the Customs in evacuating bags of foreign parboiled rice stockpiled in one of the smugglers’ warehouses in Oja Odan.
The NCS’ public relations officer (PRO), Hammed Oloyede, who confirmed the attack on the Customs’ Joint Patrol Team, said a member of the smuggling syndicate, identified as Taiye Kujo, was arrested alongside six motorcycles used by the smugglers in conveying the foreign parboiled rice into the country after the gun duel.
Trouble started when a patrol team of the NCS, Ogun Area 1 Command, which was acting on a credible intelligence report, intercepted 320 bags of foreign parboiled rice out of the large number stockpiled in a building around the area.
Oloyede in a statement made available to journalists in Abeokuta, said the NCS operatives stormed the warehouse for the purpose of evacuating the contraband to their office.
But while the evacuation was ongoing, Oloyede explained that the “diehard smugglers” in company of some hoodlums, who were all armed with sophisticated weapons, swooped on the NCS operatives and engaged them in gun duel, which lasted about an hour.
“The patrol team repelled the attack by gunning down two (2) of the hoodlums and left many others with gunshot injuries. The patrol team also succeeded in evacuating the aforementioned items and six motorcycles used by the suspected smugglers all to the Customs’ House at Idiroko, while investigation was ongoing to fish out other members of the syndicate that escaped with gun injuries,” he said.
Emphasising that anyone caught will be made to face the full wrath of the law, the Customs’ PRO in the statement, also added that the Customs Area Controller (CAC), Comptroller Peter Kolo has reiterated that the renewed hostilities by armed smugglers will not deter the NCS operatives from discharging their statutory responsibilities