By Uju Mbanusi
A TRIGGER-happy customs Officer has reportedly shot dead a villager at Seme, border area of Lagos and injured two others. The deceased identified as Friday Poku was driving into Nigeria in a red Volkswagen Jetta car with registration number GGE 81 AH along with three of his friends when the incident occurred.
The incident came barely three months after a similar one which claimed the life of a middle-aged man occurred. The shooting sparked off instant protest as angry youths in their hundreds set burnfire with used tyres in the middle of the road preventing other road users from getting access to the border. Most of the customs officers posted to Seme border took to their heels for fear of being attacked by the angry youths.
An eye witness told Crime Alert that the deceased who was in a Jetta was flagged down by some customs men who were operating illegal check point at Gbetrome area of the border. Though, the witness could not say what transpired between the deceased and the customs men, he said they were shocked when the officer pulled out his service pistol and fired the victim twice at close range.
Fleeing Customs men
The victim who had earlier alighted from the vehicle slumped and died on the spot while his friends attempted to apprehend the fleeing customs men, sustained bullet wounds as the security men fired at them.
“Nobody knew what transpired between the victims and the customs men. All we saw was that the officer pulled out his pistol and fired twice at the deceased. The team fled the area when they saw the victim slump down in a pool of his blood. They ran away in different directions leaving the victims by the side of the road. As the number of the angry youths increased, they allegedly headed towards the customs barrack, not too far from the border post.
“The angry youths barricaded the major road chanting war songs. It took the prompt intervention of the Divisional Police Officer (DPO), Seme Division, Chief Superintendent of police (CSP) Mu’Azu to bring normalcy back to the area. The body of the deceased was taken away by the irate youths who demanded that the Comptroller of Customs hand over the killer officer to them for peace to reign in the area stating that they were ready to put an end to the unprovoked attack on villagers by customs men who would always claim that their victims were smugglers. The angry youths shattered the glasses of the police patrol van while the DPO tried to pacify the crowd on the need for dialogue, “ the witness narrated.
The Chairman of the Youths at J5 park, Seme opposite where the incident occurred and who identified himself as Dosu said they were not ready to sweep the killing under the carpet. He alleged that the killing of villagers was becoming one too many on the part of the customs who fire directly at villagers and later claim that the victims were shot at because they are smugglers to cover their tracks.
“Enough is enough of this wanton killings. We want the Comptroller to hand over the killer to the police to investigate the matter. Why is it that the officers involved in the incident have not gone to make statement at the station since the matter is homicide. Why is it that the vehicle belonging to the deceased was taken away by customs and not the police. This is to afford them the opportunity to conceal vital evidence that might unravel the situation that led to the death,” he added.
Police sources at the Command headquarters, Ikeja stated that Friday Poku was shot and killed by some customs men at Gbetrome area of Seme. It was also stated in the report that the deceased was driving a red coloured Volkswagen Jetta car with registration number GGE 81 AH.
The Custom’s Public Relations Officer, PRO, Seme Command, Deputy Superintendent of Custom, Ernest Ollotah however, said the Comptroller has set up a panel to investigate the matter. Though, he said he was not aware of any killing, he however, stated that the command was investigating a case of an attempt to disarm some customs officers by some smugglers who fled the area after they were repelled by security men. This claim is at variant with the police report. “I am not aware of any killing but we are investigating an attempt to disarm some of our men by smugglers. However, we will make the out come of the investigations known to the public, “he stated.