The Comptroller of Customs, Ogun Area Command, Mr.SaniMadugu, escaped an attack by smugglers along the Ifo-Sango Expressway during the week. He ascribed it to the huge seizure his command has made in the past nine months.
Madugu said smugglers, who came after him during the incident were stepping up their attacks as a result of seizures of contraband especially rice and vehicles amounting to over N1bn between January and September.
The attack is coming barely two months after he told our correspondent in an interview that he was stepping up his anti-smuggling war because smugglers were increasingly becoming strategic in the state.
Speaking on the attack on Thursday, Madugu told journalists in Abeokuta, Ogun State that he was travelling to Idiroko in two vehicle convoy when his assailants ambushed the vehicles while he was stuck in traffic at Ijapo, Tipper Garage area of Ifo Road.
He said, “We were in just two vehicles and we had to call for reinforcement of three additional vehicles when the attack began.
“There were many of them. Some of them even removed their clothes, taunting us that if we shot at them, the bullets would not hurt them. But we knew this was a lie but we did not shoot.
“We could not shoot because if we did, innocent people could be hit. This is why we were calm and tried to control the situation by calling for reinforcements.
“A reinforcement of three vehicles later came, and we succeeded in repelling them. Before the arrival of our reinforcement, they had damaged our escort vehicle.”
The assailants reportedly destroyed Madugu’s escort vehicle, breaking its lights, bumper protector, windshield, windows and side mirrors.
Madugu said they also took away a bag and uniform belonging to one of his security aides.
The matter has been reported to the Ogun State Police Command, while the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ahmed Iliasu, has ordered an investigation into the matter.
The Customs boss said, “The fight against smugglers in Ogun will continue, we will not be intimidated by attacks. Anti-smuggling activity in Ogun area command is taking another dimension.
“Within the Idiroko axis of the command, we seized over 1,100 bags of rice in the last seven days alone.
“We also seized 200 kegs of vegetable oil in the same period. We are pursuing the smugglers to the bush, creeks and their illegal warehouses in the bushes.
“If we calculate the total value of what we have seized from January till date, it will be over N1.1bn.So, the smugglers are frustrated and angry that they are losing a lot to our anti-smuggling war.”
However, residents of the area where the attack took place alleged that bullets hit some passers-by while the Customs convoy was trying to avoid the traffic snarl.
The area comptroller said it was a concocted story.
He said, “Nobody shot in the air at all. We were just two vehicles in the traffic so there was no reason to shoot in the air. Even while we were being attacked, I did not order my men to shoot.
“It was only when the reinforcement came that they shot in the air and all of the hoodlums fled.”