Operatives of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) have allegedly invaded and unleashed terror on residents of Fagbohun village in the Yewa South Local Government Area of Ogun State.
The angry operatives allegedly set ablaze some houses, motorcycles, ransacked the palace of their village head and arrested some people.
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This followed the murder of two Customs officers during a bloody clash between the officials and smugglers last week.
Our correspondent reports that the clash occurred last Tuesday when the officers attached to the Federal Operating Unit (FOU), Ikeja, Lagos, arrived at the village for an operation.
It was gathered that the smugglers, on sighting the patrol team, unleashed terror on them as two officers got missing in the melee.
However, on Wednesday, the lifeless body of one of the missing officers was reportedly found in a river near Ajegun Iyaloosa village without his rifle.
The body of the second officer was found the next day, bringing the number of operatives murdered to two.
However, in what seems like a reprisal attack, operatives allegedly visited the community with terror, forcing residents to flee their abode for safety.
The Baale of Fagbohun village, Chief Simeon Fagbohun, raised the alarm that his people have fled their houses and could not yet return following the customs’ invasion.
Fagbohun said this on Monday while speaking with journalists in Abeokuta, the State capital.
He expressed worry that the killing did not happen in his village and also defended the villagers of having hands in the death of the customs officers.
According to him, the killing of the officers occurred in Iya Sango village which is about 5km away to Fagbohun village, wondering why his people would have to bear the brunt of the act.
He said the officers burnt houses, motorcycles and looted his palace.
The traditional chief said: “It is not in Fagbohun village the custom officers were killed, it happened in Iya Sango village.
“The village is in Yewa land, it is about 5km to Fagbohun village.
“Fagbohun is a village these smugglers used to pass, it is the biggest village in that axis, which has vulcanizers and schools.
“Those smugglers have a stopover in our village to fix their tyres and also eat. They stopped in a place called Eti Odo in Fagbohun village.
“Custom Officer came to our place on the 26th of October, myself and my senior brother named Johnson Olarinde Fagbohun departed from Ilaro, I stayed in Ilaro while he went to the village.
“At around 7pm, he called that he has been arrested by some customs officers and they were taking him and others to an unknown destination.
“I was marvelled and surprised by what he told me. When I asked what for, he told me that they told him that some smugglers killed customs officers.
“We saw that they have burnt the house of Adeoye Fagbohun, one of the sons of Fagbohun family. He is an elder brother to me. They burnt his house with three motorcycles also.
“He is the one doing vulcanizing in the junction of the village where his house was, his vulcanizing machine was also burnt inside the house.
“They burnt three motorcycles as well. I also saw that they went into my own palace too. They looted my palace, they didn’t burn motorcycles in front of my house but I can’t find two motorcycles in my house, also our pumping machine…”
‘It’s not true’
When contacted, the spokesman of NCS, FOU, Ikeja, Theophilus Duniya, denied the allegations.
Duniya said though the service had lost two of its officers to the attack by the people in the area, the operatives did not take the law into their hands.
He said seven suspects were arrested with dane guns and matchets and had been put in custody as murder suspects.
He said; “the incident that happened last week, some people were arrested in connection with murder as murder suspects.
“Then, the issue of burning houses, motorcycles and what have you, as a law enforcement agency, despite the fact that our operatives were murdered in the manner it happened, we cannot take the law into our hands.
“In as much as we seek to have justice for the slain officers, we cannot take the laws into our hands by destroying people’s property.
“So, what his claims are, were not executed by our operatives.
“Operatives of Customs service never burnt anybody’s house, never burnt any motorcycle. The only thing I know on authority that was done was the arrest of gun suspects that are in custody.”