Some Nigerian Custom officers attached to the Federal Operations Unit, who were chasing a smuggler who had fled into a Badagry, Lagos community in Ajara Topa area, allegedly opened fire on some residents and four people were hit by stray bullets including a motorcycle rider, Alayoade Arewayo and one John Sonayo.
According to Punch Metro, Arewayo survived and was rushed to a private hospital in Badagry, while Sonayo was said to have died in transit from the Badagry General Hospital to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja.Two others whose names could not be ascertained were reportedly taken to a hospital in Cotonou, Benin Republic.
It was learnt that immediately the incident happened, the customs officers fled the scene as they were said to have got reinforcement from a military barracks in the area to forestall a mob attack.Arewayo, who sustained a gunshot injury in the leg, said he was returning from a church programme around 7.30pm on Saturday when he was hit bya stray bullet.
“I had a crusade programme at Marina, Ebute area on that day. I had left the place for home when it started raining.I decided to call at a shop to buy noodles that I would take in the night. “I had hardly dropped off my motorcycle, when I started hearing sporadic gunshots; people were running helter-skelter. I thought it was armed robbery.
The people I wanted to buy noodles from had also taken to their heels.
“As I fled for dear life, I was hit by a bullet in the leg. I fell and was assistedto a hospital by my friend that was with me. It was later I was told that four people were shot and one person later died,” Arewayo said.It was learnt that the customs officers neither went to the community in their operational vehicle nor wore their uniforms.
They were reportedly led by one DSC Jude. Speaking to a correspondent, David Taiwo, who is a resident of the community, said he reported the incident at the Badagry Police Division around 8.30pm, adding that the Divisional Police Officer assigned a policeman to visit the scene of the shooting.He said, “We discovered that the customs officers were from the Federal Operations Unit in Ikeja; they were posted to Badagry.
They were not in their operational vehicle and they didn’t wear their uniform. They came in a private car. They pursued a smuggler, who loaded about eight bags of rice.“To effect arrest, they started shooting sporadically. Four innocent people were hit by bullets. One of them, John Sonayo, was taken to the Badagry General Hospital, but he was referred to LASUTH. It was on the way that hedied.
The family members of the other victims took them to Cotonou for treatments.
The victims were not smugglers.”Taiwo said the customs officers ran to Ibereko Baracks to get reinforcement against members of the community that had gathered to attack them.
A community leader also revealed that no fewer than 10 residents had been allegedly killed in 2016 by operatives of the Nigeria Customs Service, adding that the officers usually harassed residents