A Special Task Force of the Comptroller General of Customs (CG Task Force) has swooped on Tokunboh (fairly used) car smugglers in Ogun State, seizing at least, three state of the art cars, one of them, a 2014 Range Rover.
The incident, which began at around Oju-Ore area of Ota in the Ado-Odo/Ota local government area of Ogun State however, developed into a gun battle after the smugglers on the advice of their leader, simply identified as Agarawu Baba, mobilised and waylaid the officers who were taking the seizure to the Federal Operations Unit in Lagos. The aim, it was learnt, was to retrieve the cars.
The mobilisation culminated in blocking of roads, chanting of incantations and waiving of guns, cutlasses alongside other dangerous weapons by the dreaded smugglers. It resulted in a gun duel which lasted for about 40 minutes; until men of the Operation MESA and Special Anti-Robbery Squad rushed in, allegedly on the invitation of the Customs, and brought the situation finally under control.
Six persons, who were indicated to have been injured, were immediately rushed to the General Hospital, Otta, for treatment. Five were allegedly treated and discharged, as a result of the timely intervention of revered community leaders (names withheld).
The Officers decided to keep the sixth person as a suspect in view of the shootings.
Consequently, the injured suspect has opted to remain in the hospital.
“We believe the resident officers in Ogun State could not have been able to arrest the Agara boys, because of the gentleman’s understanding between their leader and the officers. But this understanding was probably unknown to the marauding CG Task Force who strayed in from Lagos,” explained an informed eye witness, adding that it was also not unlikely, that the Customs officers had been on the trail of the smugglers from Owode area in Yewa South local government for some time, before cornering them at Oju-Ore.
“Nobody died in the incident,” an officer of the Customs Service who pleaded for anonymity stated further, noting that the Ogun State Command Customs Public Relations Officer, Usman Abdullahi might not be aware of the development since those who carried out the seizure were not of the command.
The Secretary to the Otta General Hospital, Jibola Taiwo has however, confirmed that no corpse was brought to the hospital as a result of the Customs -smugglers’ tango, adding that both the Customs officers who sustained injuries, as well as the smugglers were timely treated and discharged; except one persons remaining who was still receiving treatment.
Similarly, when the attention of the Customs Public Relations Officer, FOU Command, Ikeja, Uche Ejesieme was sought, he specifically confirmed that no life was lost.
“No life was lost,” he emphasised, stressing that the officers and men of the Service understand very well that they have a primary task of protecting the Nigerian life and property, even while risking their own lives, enforcing the laws of the land.
He however, called the attention of the media, to the illegality of taking the laws into ones hand, to obstruct, molest and assault officers performing their statutory duties, so as to retrieve already impounded cargo.
Calling attention to Section 11 articles A, B and C which prescribes two years for anyone convicted of “obstruction”, molesting or assaulting an officer from performing his legitimate functions, including impounding contraband, Ejesieme highlighted that what the smugglers did was clearly, obstructing the FOU operatives.
Consequently, he beamed further light into the development, explaining that the officers had naturally stopped a vehicle and asked the driver to produce required papers, showing evidence that the owner paid government required duty.
When the driver failed to produce the papers, he was politely told that the car would be taken away and driven to FOU Ikeja office, where the owner could come and claim it, once he gets access to the relevant document.
Unknown to the officers, they were however, to walk into the waiting arms of hoodlums, brandishing charms, broken bottles, cutlasses and guns, who swooping on the officers, also smashed the windscreen of the government vans they were in, wounding several of them, as they shot sporadically.
“Under such conditions, anyone could understand that our officers would naturally respond in self defence,” he posited, stressing that even under such emergency situation, their trainings still ensured that no life was lost.
He debunked the notion that the command was holding any suspect in the hospital, stressing that the man still recuperating in the hospital was likely the most unruly one, in the process of the commotion, got most injured.
He confirmed the interventions of the community leaders, noting that one of them, a member of the State Assembly was even shocked, when he saw the extent of the damage inflicted by the hoodlums, on the government procured, Customs Service vehicles.
“So, you can now imagine the hostility with which they attacked our men, when they ambushed our officers, in spite of the illegality of their action,” Ejesieme noted, stressing the reality of dangers officers are often exposed to, in the hands of hoodlums who have no respect for the laws of the land.

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