Thursday, August 29, 2013

Mob Kills Two Customs Officers over Death of Motorist

Angered by the shooting of a motorist by some officials of the Nigeria
Customs Service (NCS) attached to the Seme Border, a mob thursday
attacked the Customs post, killing two officers.
But the Customs gave the casualty figure as one.
The attack came barely eight weeks after a Customs officer allegedly
shot and killed a pregnant female passenger and three weeks after
another person, one Friday Poku, was allegedly killed at the Seme
THISDAY gathered that when the news of the shooting of the motorist,
simply identified as Saturday, filtered into town, he was said to have
been killed in the incident. This prompted some youths to take to the
streets to protest the alleged recklessness of the Customs officers.
Although they did not get the officer suspected to have killed the
motorist, the mob intercepted some senior Custom officers who were on
their way to work and allegedly killed two of them. They also burnt
their car.
It was gathered that the protest by the youths, which spiralled out of
control, was fuelled by the lingering feud between the community and
the service personnel who are stationed there.
According to some residents, the killings of peopleof the community by
Customs officers have become so rampant that the youths could no
longer watch such an incident continuing with little or nothing being
done to bring the suspected killers to book.
One of the community members who spoke to THISDAY on condition of
anonymity, said the officers usually cover their tracks by branding
theirvictims smugglers.
The angry youths, chanting war songs, were said to have barricaded the
major road during the protest. They later marched on the Customs
office in the area during which they burned a patrol van.
It took the prompt intervention of the Divisional Police Officer
(DPO), Seme Division, Mohammed Mu'Azu, a Chief Superintendent of Chief
Police (CSP), and the border patrol unit of the Nigerian Army, headed
by a colonel, to restore normalcy to the area.
However, Custom sources claimed that Saturday was shot while trying to
escape after attemptingto smuggle bags of rice across the border to
The source told THISDAY that the suspected smuggler was not dead, but
he was injured and was at the moment recuperating in an undisclosed
hospital in the area.
But eyewitnesses said Saturday had engaged the yet-to-be identified
Customs officer who shot him inan argument, which escalated and
resulted in the officer opening fire on him.
But the Customs has debunked such claims, stressing that its men were
attacked because theyhave conscientiously tried to stop smuggling in
the area.
In a statement made available to THISDAY, the Customs spokesperson,
Ernest Olottah, a Deputy Superintendent of Custom (DSC), said only one
official was killed.
He said: "It is with heavy and sorrowful heart, the Seme Area Command
of the Nigeria Customs Service announces the gruesome killing of one
of our senior officers by some smugglers in the Ashipa area of Seme on
Thursday, August 29.
"The deceased Customs officer while in his official uniform unarmed
and driving to the command's headquarters for a routine meeting, was
accosted bya mob which forced him out of his vehicle.
"Buoyed by an identified chief of the community, the officer was
murdered in cold blood and his vehicle set ablaze.
"It is worth noting that the intensification of ouranti-smuggling
operation which has led to over 686 seizures since January 2013 has
placed us in the danger of attacks like this from criminals."
He alleged that those being prevented from using the borders for
nefarious activities were behind the attack.
"Our operatives due to their uncompromising stanceagainst smuggling
and protecting the nation's economy have come under series of attacks
by smugglers and some unpatriotic elements who see smuggling as their
"In some cases, attempts made at disarming some of our operatives in
the recent past were rebuffed. Comptroller Othman Abdu Saleh, Customs
Area Controller of Seme Border has in collaboration withsister
government agencies, including the police, commenced moves to bring
the perpetrators of the heinous crime to book.
"The comptroller posits that this unfortunate incident will not deter
operatives of the command under his watch from carrying out their
lawful duties," he added

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