Customs-Smugglers shootout: Residents demand justice over murder of motorcyclist

Human rights group and residents of Alagbado Area of Lagos State have urged both the Federal and Lagos State Governments to investigate alleged murder of Mr Saheed Omotosho, a commercial motorcyclist, by some officers of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).

The Lagos State Secretary of the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), Olumuyiwa Kushimo, and Chairman, Omikunle Community Development Area, Gbenga Solanke, jointly made the plea at a news conference on Saturday in Lagos.

Omotosho, also an apprentice of an auto-mobile rewire mechanic, was allegedly shot to death on Thursday on his motorcycle by men of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) while pursuing fleeing smugglers.

Kushimo called on the Nigeria Police to begin investigation without delay in order to bring the killers of Omotosho to book.

“The gruesome murder of an innocent citizen with promising future by men of NCS is barbaric, condemnable, a crime of the highest order and must be treated as such.

“The CDHR Lagos demands immediate investigation, arrest of all the Customs officers involved in such criminal act and subsequent prosecution thereof.

“We call on the government to ensure justice and adequate compensation of  the family of the deceased by the NCS.

“We also call for an unreserved apology to the people of Alagbado and its environs for the public disorder caused by these officers.

“No Customs officer should be allowed to enter into the community inhabited by people in pursuit of smugglers without involving the Divisional Police Headquarters within the area,” Kushimo said.

The non-governmental organisation also urged Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode and the Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, to mandate the state Ministry of Justice to ensure justice.

The human rights group also called for the immediate release of a brother to the deceased, Rasheed Oyedeji detained by the NCS.

The human rights group said that Oyedeji raised alarm when his brother was shot by the officers.

According to him, three vans of the men of NCS invaded Nureni Yusuf Road in pursuit of fleeing smugglers supposedly carrying contraband and engaged in sporadic gun shots that led to Omotosho’s death.

Kushimo said that the residents were now living in fear than ever, especially when the Police saddled with the responsibility to protect lives and property were also threatened by the Customs officers when they waded in.

Solanke, who described the act as despicable called on the service to apologise to the family of the deceased and ensure there would be no repeat of such.

“I do not know why an innocent man would be gunned down and there would be no consequence. The Nigeria Customs Service should own up and apologise, instead of looking for cover.

“They shot Omotosho in the view of all. About 40 residents saw it including my humble self. Instead of denying, let NCS apologise for the unfortunate incident.

“We have their photographs and some people took video coverage of the brutal act. The Customs officers should understand what it means to bear arms,” the CDA chairman said.

Solanke said that the area was not a border town and should not suffer such act, adding that officers who shot the victim should be made prosecuted.

He said the CDA had petitioned all relevant agencies of government including the Senate in order to ensure justice over the death of the 25-year old commercial motorcyclist.

The Public Relations Officer, Federal Operations Unit , Zone `A’ of NCS, Jerome Attah, said the allegation was not true.

He said there was no formal report yet from any family to Customs Service about loss of life.

Attah said that the service only received conflicting information from civilians who claimed to have witnessed the shootout.

He admitted that there was a shootout between Customs anti-smuggling operatives and some smugglers.

“Our team came back and said there was no casualty. They succeeded in bringing an exhibit, a Golf used in smuggling the rice.

“A suspected smuggler, Raheed Oyedeji, who was arrested in connection with the incident is in our custody,” he said. 

According to him, if actually somebody died, it might be caused by the smugglers, who do not know how to handle rifles.

“Our men are well trained to handle rifles,” Attah said. 

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