By Kunle Akinrinade & Ernest Nwokolo, Abeokuta.
A customs officer, Taiwo Odeyemi, has been declared missing after smugglers attacked a patrol team of Ogun 1 Command of Nigeria Customs Service at Olorunlere village near Alapoti in Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government Area.
The missing officer identified as the team’s official driver has not been found as of press time.
According to a statement issued by the spokesman of the command, Mr. Hammed Oloyede, the attack happened on Thursday afternoon when men of the command intercepted some vehicles loaded with foreign rice.
The statement said the dare-devil rice smugglers opened fire on a customs patrol team in a bid to evade arrest.
It was said that the shooting forced the operatives who were on routine patrol to beat a retreat when the attackers overwhelmed them.
‘’On Thursday, 3rd of December, 2020 at about 12:10 hours, a team of Officers and Men of Nigeria Customs Service, Ogun I Command while on routine mobile patrol along Olorunlere village, near Alapoti, Ado-Odo Ota Local Government Area of Ogun State intercepted some vehicles loaded with bags of foreign parboiled rice.
‘’The suspected smugglers sensing their loss on sighting the patrol team attempted to evade arrest and eventually started shooting sporadically at the officers. This resulted in serious exchange of fire between the two sides.’’
The statement explained that the smugglers had overwhelmed the customs patrol team before the arrival of other re-enforcement units including military personnel and other units of Customs operatives of Federal Operations Unit (FOU), requested by the Customs Area Comptroller (CAC).
The hoodlums were said to have shot Odeyemi from the rear and vandalised one of the official vehicles attached to the team.
The statement added: ‘’However, before the intervention from other units, they were overwhelmed due to the numeric strength of the smugglers/hoodlums. In the ensuing commotion, the team tactically withdrew to enable the arrival of the reinforcements teams.
‘’On the arrival of the military personnel and other units of Customs including Federal Operations Unit (FOU) as requested by the CAC, the hoodlums had already vandalised one of the official vehicles attached to the team. It was later discovered that an official driver, CA I (T) Taiwo J Odeyemi was missing and has not been found as at the time of writing this report.
‘’In the light of the above, an investigation is ongoing and effort is being made along with other security agencies and other critical stakeholders to locate the whereabouts of the missing officer and rescue him alive.
He added: ‘’To this end, the CAC strongly warned smugglers and their supporters that the incessant attacks leave officers with no other choice than to use appropriate force to deal with this new wave of criminal attacks on personnel performing their statutory functions.’’