There were pandemonium and tension in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital as dozens of soldiers and anti – riot Policemen battled to repel a mob of drivers who were rushing to the Headquarters of Ogun State Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) on Quarry road, Abeokuta, to raze it. The armed mob were protesting the killing of a colleague, Mr Saubanna ‘Onila,’ and injuring of four others by the Operatives of NCS who opened fire on them at the Kobape stretch of the Abeokuta – Sagamu road on Wednesday.
And as the mob marched and chanted war songs carrying the corpse of Saubanna along quarry road to dump it at the Headquarters of the NCS, but they were promptly stopped by the soldiers and Police called in to help control the situation when the enraged mob approached the facility. For over an hour, business activities came to an abrupt end and residents of Quarry road area and visitors scampered to different directions for safety as the security men made effort to disperse the mob.
Drivers of five vehicles, each bearing bags of rice, had taken off at the popular Kuto market, Abeokuta, and were going to Sagamu when they ran into the NCS patrol team who chased them when they refused to stop for a search. It was gathered that in bids to arrest the suspected smugglers, the Customs patrol team aimed at the tyres and fired them but the bullets missed a target and struck Saubanna, lost control when he slumped on behind the steering and the vehicle tumbled to a side of the road.
It was further gathered that his colleagues rescued him and rushed him to the hospital but he died on the way and in anger, they mobilised and staged a protest march to NCS Headquarters. A member of the mob who declined to mention his name, said: “We load from Kuto to Sagamu. We book N5,000 on each vehicle of rice. They shot at his tyre. Mazda 626. The car somersaulted and the guy was shot at point blank.
“We are five each loaded 25 bags in each car. They accosted us at Sowo Village along Kobape road. The man Father of four children. Out of the five cars, three escaped, while one was fully loaded.”
Reacting, the Command’s Public Relations Officer, Usman Abubakar who with The Nation on phone, denied any shooting by the NCS Operatives. “One of our patrol teams went on routine patrol along Kobape, Sagamu interchange based on credible information that some smugglers were around that area so they went after the smugglers.
“On sighting the Customs vehicle, the occupants of one of the vehicles started driving at high speed and in the process, ran into a ditch and the occupant of the vehicle got out ran away. Our men decided to tow the vehicle down to Abeokuta station. “There was no shoot-out with anybody, our men have no cause to shoot anybody, they are well trained and they operate according to international best practice. The police have been invited and the matter is under investigation by the customs and the police,” he said.