By Steve Agbota
Daredevil rice smugglers, at the weekend ambushed a team of customs officers on patrol at Sango area of Ogun State, injured one of the officers in the process.
An eyewitness disclosed that the team had sighted a convoy of trucks loaded with foreign parboiled rice, suspected being ferried to the Sango market by suspected smugglers.
According to him, the team had successfully seized one of the trucks and was in the process of intercepting others when the smugglers, along with some urchins, invaded one of the patrol vans left behind to protect the earlier seizure.
The urchins, in their numbers, tried to snatch one of the rifles from one of the officers. The witness said the urchins’ matcheted the officer for refusing to release his rifle.
“As soon as the officer became unconscious, the urchins took away his gun and fled when they sighted other patrol teams” the source said.
It will be recalled that two customs officers were killed and their bodies dumped in a nearby river while their rifles were taken away by suspected smugglers last year.
Several of the perpetrators have since been arrested and are standing trial in different courts in the state.
Acting Controller of the Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Zone A, Kehinde Ejibunu, who confirmed the attack, said the officer sustained deep matchet wound in his head.
Ejibunu said the officer almost paid the supreme prize for refusing to allow smuggled rice into the country, but is presently being treated in an undisclosed hospital.
“Why kill a customs officer over bags of rice that are not good for human consumption?” he queried. The rice in question is poisonous. The people of Benin Republic do not eat such rice that is considered harmful to human health.
“We will fish them (perpetrators) out from their hideouts and they will be made to face the wrath of the law. I have informed the Olota of Ota and I have told him that I don’t want to see a single grain of smuggled rice in that area.
“We have a joint security team on standby and we will soon storm the market in Ota if the attackers of my officers are not brought before me.”