By Daud Olatunji
ABEOKUTA—Pandemonium broke out, yesterday, in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital, following the death of a commercial driver identified as Saubana Onila allegedly shot by officers of Nigeria Customs Service, who were allegedly after smugglers at Kobape area, along Sagamu-Siun Expressway.
Vanguard gathered that apart from the commercial driver that lost his life, no fewer than four persons sustained injuries, leading to a traffic jam that lasted for hours along the expressway.
Scores of protesters brought the corpse of the driver to Quarry Road, Abeokuta Command of the Customs and tried to force their way into the Command.
It, however, took the combined effort of men of Nigeria Army, Police and men of Ogun State Vigilance Service to prevent the irate protesters from gaining entrance into the Command.
An eyewitness, Shola Josiah, said Saubana and four other drivers, including himself, had left Kuto market in Abeokuta around 9:30a.m, with their vehicles loaded with 25 bags of rice, heading to Sagamu.
He added that Customs officials started pursuing them at Sowo village, Kobape Road.
He said: “We had left Kuto Market in Abeokuta with our vehicles loaded with 25 bags of rice each. When we got to Sowo village, we saw Customs’ vehicle with men inside it.
“I thought there won’t be any issue because we normally pay them N5,000 on each trip. Before I knew what was happening, they had started chasing us. They caught up with me, while Saubana’s car tyres were blown out with gunshots and his Mazda 626 car eventually somersaulted into a ditch.”
He, however, alleged that customs operatives still shot Saubana at close range, after he crawled out of the wreckage of his car with a bullet injury in his thigh.
Josiah, who said his vehicle was seized and driven to the State Command of the Customs, stated that two other drivers escaped.
He lamented Saubana’s death, noting the father of four was an easy-going person.
When contacted, the Public Relations Officer of the Command, Usman Abubakar, said the allegation was not true.
According to him, “there was no shootout with anybody. Our men have no cause to shoot anybody. They are well trained and they operate according to international best practices.
“Police have been invited and we are on top of the situation. The matter is under investigation by the Customs and the police. So after thorough investigation, we will give you full details of what happened.”