A bus conductor, identified as Toheeb Olayiwola, was shot dead in Abule Egba area of Lagos on Wednesday, allegedly by customs officers chasing a bus loaded with smuggled bags of rice.
An eyewitness, Ahmed Ogundairo, told the News Agency of Nigeria that the victim was in the bus with registration number LND685XJ coming from Sango and headed toward Lagos.
Mr. Ogundairo said that customs men accosted the bus at Abule Egba and started shooting sporadically which resulted to the victim’s death.
“The commercial bus, which was loaded with bags of rice, was en-route Mushin from Sango when the customs stopped the bus and started shooting.
“My friend was inside the bus to assist in offloading the rice but he was shot dead when he tried to escape from the scene.
“The bus was hired to deliver the rice to Mushin,’’ he said.
Another eyewitness, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told NAN that the victim was not a smuggler but a transporter with a commercial bus.
A policeman from Oke-Odo Division, who was at the scene of the accident, said that no official statement could be made until the arrival of the Divisional Police Officer.
He said that the incident occurred at about 6.30 a.m.
Angry youths who protested the killing set bonfire under the bridge while the corpse of the victim was at the scene at 7.30 a.m. when NAN correspondent left the area.
The Customs Public Relations Officer, Federal Operations, Ikeja, Jerry Attah, said the unit received a report of the incident from its patrol team.
Mr. Attah said that the team trailed a vehicle loaded with smuggled rice to Abule-Egba, a suburb of Lagos.
He said the customs men were mobbed by the smugglers who prevented the officers from carrying out their duties.
Mr. Attach later released a statement claiming nobody was killed in the incident.
“On January 17, 2018 (today), at about 05.30hrs, operatives of the Federal Operations Unit, acting on a tip-off, traced one LT Bus Loaded with unspecified bags of smuggled foreign parboiled rice from Sango Area and eventually stopped it at Abule Egba.
“Before he was finally halted at Abule Egba, the driver started shouting and making inciting comments that attracted mob action against the officers with different dangerous weapons such as broken bottles, stones and cutlasses.
“Obviously, he had driven to where he could get his associates to help attack the Customs Officers.
“Given support of the mob, he resisted lawful arrest and the other armed operatives fired shots in the air to disperse the raging mob but to no avail.“As a responsible organisation, the officers retracted back to avoid any casualty.
“We appreciate and thank God that no life was lost as at the time of the confrontation, even though two of our officers sustained injuries.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the fact that a smuggler has evaded scrutiny either by following unapproved route or compromising any officer does not guarantee that the smuggled item will not be seized anywhere it is found by patrol officers whose duty is to ensure compliance.’’