Two persons have been confirmed dead while two others sustained injuries when operatives of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) on Saturday clashed with suspected smugglers in Kobape area Abeokuta, Ogun State.
The two casualties were said to be the suspected smugglers while two Customs officers were injured during the gunfire.
A patrol vehicle was also vandalised.
It was gathered that some residents of the Kobape area and commuters playing Abeokuta – Sagamu expressway were stranded for hours.
Our correspondent gathered that the clash occurred when operatives attached to the NCS Federal Operating Unit (FOU) Zone ‘A’ Lagos, were on the trail of the suspected smugglers, trafficking foreign parboiled rice.
It was gathered that the smugglers had parked at Kobape junction, along the Abeokuta-Sagamu highway, to resist the officers on their trail.
Some of the suspected smugglers reportedly pelted the law enforcement agents, as few of them were wielding cutlasses.
To repel them, the customs officers fired gunshots, thereby throwing residents of the area and commuters into confusion.
Travellers on the highway were stranded as they took cover within the Kobape community.
A number of drivers abandoned their vehicles and fled into forest to save their lives.
For hours, residents of the Egba community were dazed with fear over the sudden outbreak of the violence that disturbed their peace.
Our correspondent could not independently confirm whether or not there was any casualty in the incident.
The Public Relations Officer of Customs at FOU, Theophilus Duniya confirmed the casualties in a statement made available to newsmen on Saturday night.
He confirmed that two operatives who injured in the clash are currently receiving medical attention at the hospital.
He also said a suspect has been arrested while others smugglers have fled.
He said “The patrol team had intercepted twelve vehicles of different kinds, laden with bags of foreign parboiled rice and were on their way to the government warehouse before smugglers mobilized themselves with the support of their sympathizers and attacked the team with dangerous weapons.
“During the exchange of gun fire, two of the attackers lost their lives and one suspect was arrested. Out of 12 vehicles in the convoy of the smugglers , our operatives were able to leave with 4 of them laden with smuggled foreign parboiled rice
“The arrested suspect and the seizure have been brought to the Unit Headquarters, Ikeja,” Duniya said.
He quoted the Ag. Controller of the Unit, Hussein K Ejibunu to have frowned at the avoidable loss of lives due to the unprovoked attack.
The Customs Spokesman also said the Acting Controller had ordered full scale Investigations into the matter to apprehend other fleeing suspects with their smuggled wares.
He also cautioned the youths to eschew violent confrontations with government operatives and be law abiding at all times.