There was a breach of the peace at Mosalasi bus stop, Alagbado, Lagos State, on Thursday, during which operatives of the Nigeria Customs Service, shot dead a 25-year-old commercial motorcyclist (okada rider), Saheed Omotosho.
Saheed’s elder brother, Rasheed Omotosho, was also said to have been beaten up and arrested by the customs officers when he protested that the victim was allegedly killed unjustly.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the NIS team had chased a vehicle loaded with suspected smuggled bags of rice on the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway.
They were said to have impounded the vehicle from the smugglers at the bus stop. As the team made to go with the contraband, some hoodlums reportedly stopped them, and started offloading the rice.
It was gathered that the officers called for reinforcement, which after arriving started shooting sporadically. The development made okada riders and others in the area to flee.
An eyewitness, Adeniyi Obanisola, told PUNCH Metro that bullets ripped through Saheed’s back while he was running to safety.
He said, “Saheed was shot dead by the officers. He had a wife, who is pregnant. His elder brother was bitter that they killed his brother. They beat him up and took him away.”
When our correspondent visited Agas Street, where Saheed lived, his pregnant wife was said to have been moved to a relative’s residence in Sango.
Policemen were also seen patrolling the area while aggrieved friends of the deceased made bonfires on the road.
A source told our correspondent that name tags were not attached to the uniform wore by the customs operatives, adding that they fled the scene, leaving the victim in a pool of blood.
“But the picture of one of the customs officers was taken at the scene,” the source added.
Another witness, Muftau Oladosu, said the NIS officers intensified the shootings when the Divisional Police Officer of the Alakuko Police Station led his men to the scene to restore peace.
“The DPO tried to talk to them but they continued shooting and left with the seized bags of rice,” he said.
The Chairman, Itesiwaju Motorcyle Park, under which Saheed operated, Wasiu Ibikunle, condemned the incident, saying the government needed to check the excesses of customs officers.
He said, “They didn’t see any contraband with the victim. Why will customs men be intimidating us with guns when we are not smugglers? Government needs to caution them.”
The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, SP Dolapo Badmos, who confirmed the incident, said the command had commenced investigation to ascertain the identities of the killer officers.
She said, “The report is that in the early hours of Thursday, some customs officers trailed a vehicle . In the process, they started shooting. One Saheed Omotosho was shot dead.
“The deceased’s brother was taken away to an unknown destination. The corpse has been taken to a morgue. Investigation is ongoing into the matter.”
The spokesperson for the NCS, Federal Operations Unit ‘A’, Ikeja, Jerry Attah, said, “Our operatives gathered information that three vehicles were loaded with smuggled rice and ammunition, with a particular reference to a Gulf Vento.
“The smugglers incited a mob attack on the customs officers. They were towing the vehicles with the content inside before the mob attack.
“The attackers were in their numbers with machetes, guns and other weapons. Our men later overpowered them, towed away the gulf car and arrested a smuggler. There was no casualty; nobody died.”