A trader identified as Samuel Apase was Thursday allegedly killed by some officers of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, at the Badagry Roundabout, Lagos State.
According to the Punch, Apase was intercepted by the officers in the Muwo area of Badagry who confiscated his vehicle, a Toyota Camry which he allegedly used to smuggle some bags of rice and frozen foods from Seme.
The officers reportedly took the vehicle away while Apase boarded a motorcycle to trail them and caught up with the officers at the Badagry Roundabout, pleading to pay some money to get the car and the goods released.
However, in the process of negotiations, a disagreement ensued and the officers reportedly opened fire on Apase who died on the spot.
Reports say the stray bullets hit a passerby and a trader and some Good Samaritans rushed the injured victims to the Badagry General Hospital for treatment. Apase’s corpse has, however, been deposited in the hospital’s morgue.
A resident in the area, Oluwaseun Babalola, blamed Apase’s death on the customs officers’ recklessness, saying the deceased was not confrontational.
According to him, “The officers were unprofessional in the way they handled the matter. If they perceived Apase’s attempt to get his goods and car back as bribery, the best thing was to arrest him. He was not armed; so why did they pull their triggers?”
Meanwhile, the NCS spokesperson, Badagry Command, Taopeng Selchang, denied the allegation against the officers, saying some hoodlums attacked the officers and injured the patrol van’s driver while the seized goods from Apase were being taken away.
He said the officers only shot into the air to disperse the hoodlums.
Selchang said, “We seized contraband of about 64 cartons of frozen food products from the suspect and a quantity of rice. The suspect was intercepted along Muwo and while the officers were moving the contraband, some hoodlums ambushed them at the roundabout with cutlasses and other weapons.
“They attacked the officers with machetes. They also smashed the windscreen and the wing mirrors of the vehicle. One of the hoodlums was struggling with an officer to dispossess him of his rifle when other officers shot into the air to disperse the hoodlums and ensure that the seized goods get to the command’s headquarters; there was pandemonium thereafter.
“The officers were only interested in bringing the contraband to the command, so they are not in a position to know whether somebody was killed or not,” the spokesperson noted.