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Customs officer narrates ordeal in rice smugglers’ hands in court

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By Abiodun OBA

 

An operative of the Nigeria Customs Service, Assistant Superintendent of Customs, Mr Amos Ekundayo told a Federal High Court in Ibadan how a gang of rice smugglers attempted to kill him after shooting him in the head.

Ekundayo was led in evidence by Mr Michael Osug, the prosecution in the case filed against two suspected rice smugglers: Waliu Ayodeji and Lateef Odugbemi before Justice E.K. Akpan on Friday.

The suspects were apprehended on May 22, 2023, at Igbo Ora area of Oyo State and had pleaded not guilty to attempted murder, unlawful importation of foreign rice and conspiracy.

“I was one of the customs officers on patrol on May 22, 2023, when we were informed that a gang of smugglers were operating on the Ologbojo-Tapa Road which is under Igbo-ora area.

“On getting there with the other members of the team, I attempted to address the members of the gang.

“However, they told me that the only person that can address them was Sunday Igboho.

“Before I knew what was happening, they shot me in the head and my back,” Ekundayo said.

He showed the court the three different spots where he was allegedly shot.

The witness also stated that he was taken to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital for medical attention.

Ekundayo added that he spent eight days in the hospital before being discharged.

“During our investigation, we found out that the two defendants and others now at large, had smuggled 144 bags of per boiled rice from Cotonou, Benin Republic,” the customs officer said.

In his testimony, Mr Ganiu Salami, an informant to the Nigeria Customs Service said that he knew the two defendants as smugglers and that he informed the custom operatives about the May 22, 2023, event.

“After the customs operatives accosted the gang of smugglers, the second defendant, Odugbemi pointed his gun and shot at Ekundayo.

He tendered the medical report issued by the hospital in respect of the shooting before the court as an exhibit.

However, counsel to the first and second defendant, Mr A.A. Okelola and Mr Adewale Ishola prayed the court not to admit the medical report tendered by Salami on the ground that it was not a certified true copy.

In their separate arguments, Okelola and Ishola said that the medical report was a mere coloured photocopy document.

In a counter argument, the prosecution counsel, Osug  said that the document that was tendered was original.

Finally, the court admitted the document as an exhibit against the defendants and adjourned the matter until March 23 for continuation of trial.

 

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