TWO suspected smugglers sustained gunshot wounds and a Customs officer was hit in the eyes by a bottle thrown at fleeing Customs officers on Wednesday morning during an exchange of gunfire between Customs officers attached to the Federal Operations Unit, Zone A, Ikeja of the Nigerian Customs Service and rice smugglers at Abule-Egba in Lagos.
Explaining to the Nigerian Tribune how the whole melee played out, Spokesman of the Federal Operations Unit, Zone A of Customs, Jerry Attah stated that the suspected smugglers raised a mob attack on the Customs at Abule-Egba in order to escape arrest.
According to Attah, “In the early hours of the morning, on Wednesday, one of our patrol teams noticed a vehicle that was loaded with smuggled rice along unapproved routes, towards Abule-Egba.
“Our patrol team chased them down to Abule-Egba. However, when our men got to Abule-Egba and wanted to make an arrest, the smugglers had mobilised a mob around the overhead bridge to attack our men.
“There was a mob attack on the Customs officers who wanted to make an arrest of the vehicle loaded with smuggled rice. At that point, there was an exchange of gunfire between the smugglers and Customs officers.
“So when the crowd was becoming too much, our officers had to take-off the scene of the incident to call for more reinforcement. Our men were being attacked with bottles, matches and even charms. Unfortunately, one of our officers was hit in the left eye by one of the bottles thrown at them.
“As at the time our men left the scene of the incident, there was no recorded death. Our men came to call for reinforcement and got back there only to discover that the vehicle laden rice was now empty. The smugglers had taken all the rice away from the car. Later, we were told that the said vehicle had been taken to a nearby police station for safe keeping.
“Our officers did not come back with any of the rice because the vehicle had been emptied by the smugglers before it was taken to a nearby police station.”
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