The Controller of the Nigeria Customs Service (NSC), Ogun I Command, Michael Agbara, has disclosed how suspected smugglers hijacked the #EndSARS protest at border areas of the state, to kill an operative and inflicted life-threatening injuries on two others.
Agbara equally said patrol bases of the NCS were vandalised and set ablaze in various locations such as Oja Odan, Ilaro, Ihunbo, Adisba, Owode, Ijoun and Imeko.
Briefing newsmen on the post-#EndSARS protest crisis at Idiroko on Thursday, the Area Controller, said an officer, Solomon Alayge lost his life, two officers were maimed, while personnel’s uniforms and other valuables items were looted by smugglers, who masked as protesters.
Agbara added that the smugglers used the period to embark on smuggling of rice and vehicles.
He, however, said the command reinforced with synergy from the military and other security agencies to beef up security at the border areas.
The Controller explained that the command upon restoring sanity, recovered about 3,000 bags of rice, 1,875 litres of petrol among other contraband itema smuggled during the attacks.
According to him, the attacks were launched by smugglers in connivance with hoodlums in order to frustrate operations of the customs officers, thereby paving ways for unchecked smuggling.
Agbara vowed that all the smugglers and hoodlums behind the attacks and killing of an officer would not go scot-free.
He said, “Their target was principally aimed at customs to leave the border areas for them to have unfettered access to smuggling. I can assure you that after restoration of the control we have recorded successes and recovered seizures.
“They have not gone scot free. We are still gathering intelligence on all of them who took the advantage to smuggle in contrabands. Also, those who in one way or the other have hand in the killing and maiming of the officers, they will not go scot-free. they must be brought to book”.
Speaking on the performances of the command in the third quarters, he said 420 seizures were made under the period including 37 sacks of cannabis sativa, 86 units of Vehicles, 11,146 bags of foreign parboiled rice (50 kg), 39 units of motorcycle, being used as means of conveying contrabands, 299, 450 litres of petrol, 1,225 litres of diesel and 127 kegs of palm oil.
Also confiscated are 1,814 cartons of frozen poultry products, 24 sacks of pesticide, 10,775 pieces of different types of plastic rubber and 186 cartoons of crocodile machetes
The Total Duty Paid Value of the items, according to Agbara is valued at N397,076,991.
He added that while the NSC would continue to engage and dialogue with stakeholders on the economic implications of smuggling, the operatives would not be intimidated and daunted by what he described as “premeditated attacks”.
“Despite the precarious situation experienced recently by the Command, we will continue to dialogue, engage, sensitise and educate the public on social/economic implications of smuggling as well as performing statutory function of enforcing compliance in line with government fiscal policies.
“We wish to reiterate that the continued attack on operatives of NCS and other sister agencies will not deter us from the continued performance of our legitimate duties,” The Controller stated.