The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Federal Operation Unit (FOU), Zone A in Ibadan, has confirmed the death of three persons in clashes between the officers and rice smugglers.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that no fewer than four persons were hit on Thursday in Iseyin area of Oyo state when customs officers shot sporadically in the air after intercepting smuggled goods coming through the borders.
NAN gathered that those hit by stray bullets were residents who were enjoying their Eld-Fitri celebrations.
Reacting to the incident in a statement made available to newsmen on Friday, the FOU Zone A spokesman, Mr Theophilus Duniya, confirmed the death of three persons.
Duniya said that the officers who were on routine patrol intercepted two Nissan Pathfinder SUV vehicles fully loaded with smuggled foreign parboiled rice at Iseyin.
He said that the daredevil smugglers then mobilised themselves with the help of some thugs on Thursday at about 3pm and attacked a Customs patrol, who were on lawful duty at Iseyin.
Duniya said that the mob attacked the officers with dangerous weapons which led to the infliction of serious injuries on two officers.
“They attempted 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 who acted in self defence, shot at the suspected abductors leading to the death of three of them before he was rescued and taken for immediate medical attention.
“The officers were able to successfully evacuate the intercepted smuggled rice, while the injured officers are currently receiving treatment,” Duniya said.
He said the Acting Controller of the Unit, DC Usman Yahaya, was saddened about the avoidable incident and urged community leaders and parents to call their wards and children to order.
Duniya said that the acting controller lamented the criminality of obstructing and attacking officers on lawful duty, describing it as a venture that yields no good for all including the Service.
“We appeal for compliance to extant rules and assures of the resolve of our men to remain resolute in discharging their duties in the best interest of Nigerians,” Duniya said.