Nigeria Customs Service has explained the reason its operatives opened fire in Iseyin town, Iseyin Local Government Area of Oyo State, on Thursday.
Residents said five persons were shot dead while others sustained serious injuries when Customs operatives opened fire on some vehicles suspected to be loaded with foreign rice
But the Service in a statement on Friday claimed some rice smugglers hired hoodlums to attack its officers on lawful duty, injuring some of its personnel in the process.
The statement, which was signed by Theophilus Duniya on behalf of Ag. Controller, Federal Operations Unit Zone A, Usman Yahahya, said one of its injured officers was abducted by the hoodlums with his rifle, and his colleagues in the process of rescuing him fired at the hoodlums, killing three of them.
The statement read: “At about 1500 hours of Thursday, 13th May, 2021 some daredevil smugglers mobilised themselves with the help of some thugs; attacked a patrol team serving with Federal Operations Unit Zone A, who were on lawful duty at Iseyin.
“The officers who were on routine patrol intercepted two Nissan Pathfinder SUV vehicles fully loaded with smuggled foreign parboiled rice at Iseyin.
“Sequel to the interception, the officers were attacked by a mob who were mobilised by the smugglers. The mob attacked the officers with dangerous weapons which led to the infliction of serious injuries on two officers.
“In an attempt to abduct one of the officers that was brutally attacked; who sustained deep cuts on his head and other parts of his body.
“The assailants had taken the injured officer with his rifle before his team members whom acted in self defence, shot at his suspected abductors leading to the death of three of them before he was rescued and taken for immediate medical attention.”
The Service further explained that its officers were able to successfully evacuate the intercepted smuggled rice, while the injured officers are currently receiving treatment.
“The Acting Controller of the Unit, DC Usman Yahaya, is sad about the avoidable incident and urges community leaders and parents to call their wards and youths to order.
”He laments the criminality of obstructing and attacking officers on lawful duty, describing it as a venture that yields no good for all including the Service,” it added.