THE Iseyin Elders Council (IEC) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to order the arrest and prosecution of officers and men of the Nigerian Customs Service who killed innocent bystanders in Iseyin, Oyo State, on Thursday while chasing rice smugglers.
The IEC, through its vice chairman and former Commissioner for Works and Transport in the state, Alhaji Bolaji Kareem, said the council identified with the directive of the Aseyin of Iseyinland, Oba AbdulGaniyu Adekunle Ologunebi Ajinese I, that the Federal Government should restrict the activities of Customs men to designated border posts while justice should be done and families of the slain victims should be adequately compensated.
“The Iseyin Elders Council wants a probe panel to be instituted while indicted Custom officers should be charged with murder. We are tired of killings of innocent, harmless, defenceless citizens of Iseyinland and Oke-Ogun by blood- thirsty criminals in uniforms.
“We wonder why it is only in this part of the country that men of Customs and Excise abandon their duty posts to chase shadow and recklessly massacre our law-abiding innocent people,” the council said. It also asked the state governor, Mr Seyi Makinde, to come to the aid of “citizens of Iseyin and Oke Ogun in general being killed in cold blood by men of Customs and Excise, kidnappers, bandits and herdsmen.
“The Iseyin Elders Council commiserates with families of the slain, the Aseyin of Iseyinland and the people of the town for the avoidable massacre, hoping that the murderers will be made to face justice. We also pray for the repose of the souls of the departed.”
Meanwhile, the Customs Service issued a statement on Friday to state its own side on the killings. In the statement by one of its spokesmen, Theophilus Duniya, the Customs claimed that there was an attack on its patrol team at about 3.00 p.m. on Thursday in Iseyin.
The statement reads in part: “At about 1500 hours of Thursday, 13th May, 2021, some daredevil smugglers mobilised themselves with the help of some thugs, attacked a patrol team serving with Federal Operations Unit, Zone A, who were on lawful duty at Iseyin.
“The officers, who were on routine patrol, intercepted two Nissan Pathfinder SUV vehicles fully loaded with smuggled foreign parboiled rice at Iseyin. Sequel to the interception, the officers were attacked by a mob who were mobilised by the smugglers.
“The mob attacked the officers with dangerous weapons which led to the infliction of serious injuries on two officers. In an attempt to abduct one of the Customs officers that was brutally attacked, and had sustained deep cuts on his head and other parts of his body, three smugglers lost their lives as other Customs officers in the patrol team opened fire on them.
“The assailants had taken the injured officer with his rifle before his team members, who acted in self-defence, shot at his suspected abductors, leading to the death of three of them before he was rescued and taken for immediate medical attention.
“The officers were able to successfully evacuate the intercepted smuggled rice, while the injured officers are currently receiving treatment.
“The Acting Controller of the unit, DC Usman Yahaya, is sad about the avoidable incident and urges community leaders and parents to call their wards and youths to order.”