Customs armoured vehicles rot away, as smugglers kill officers in Ogun, Lagos


Abiola Seun


The officers of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) are being killed by daredevil smugglers, as Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs), procured are abandoned across the commands.

Recall that the immediate past Comptroller General of the service, Abdulahi Dikko had in 2014 procured the APCs for Customs officers in Lagos and Ogun to combat smuggling.

But, since 2015, the APCs have been abandoned while smugglers are having a field day by killing, maiming and wounding officers.

For instance, in April 2018, a customs officer, Rasheed Abdulsalam, attached to the Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Zone A, Lagos was kidnapped after a fierce battle with smugglers.

Some of his colleagues also sustained various degrees of injuries in the bloody anti-smuggling operation that occurred at night around Gateway Hotel, Ota, Ogun State.

Abdulsalam, till date has not been found as sources in the unit said he has been killed by the smugglers that kidnapped him.

Also, in January 2019, smugglers killed another customs officer, Hamisu Sani and injured an inspector, Tijani Michael, during an ambush at Asero community in Abeokuta, Ogun State.

The operatives attached to Ogun Area Command of the command were on a routine anti-smuggling patrol in an attempt to secure eight vehicles loaded with smuggled rice and kept in Asero community.

Another FOU operative, Yakubu Shuaibu, was also shot dead by suspected smugglers in Ogun State in April 2019.

The victim, an Assistant Superintendent of Customs, was killed at Akinrun village, Oja – Odan axis in Yewa North Local Government Area. The smugglers, who ambushed the operatives who were on patrol, also injured one of them, identified as Joseph.

However, stakeholders have raised the alarm over numbers of Customs officers killed by smugglers in the last four years.

They, however, wondered why the service would allow anti-smuggling vehicles rot away while smugglers are killing Customs officers.

According to Sylvester Nnamdi, a clearing agent at the Apapa port, he queried why the Customs CG would demoralise the APC and allow officers face smugglers ill-equipped.

He said, “The customs CG should be held responsible for the death of the officers. We should ask him why the APCs are not working. Is it because they are thought by his predecessor? Or is it because they can’t maintain it? We need answers,” he said.

He stated further that the death of officers recorded while facing smugglers would have been reduced if APCs are put into effective use.

Reacting to the issue, The National Public Relations Officer of Customs, Joseph Attah said that Customs does not have any armoured vehicles in anywhere rotten away or not put into use.

He maintained that Customs has been going on patrol with Toyota Hilux buses across the country.

He said: “I’m not saying we do not have armoured vehicles in Customs. We have but we are using them. And again, I don’t think there is any security outfit that one will go and ask them details about their armaments, and they will disclose the details to you. To be frank, we are making use of the armoured vehicles in our possession.”

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