At least four persons were feared killed and three others injured yesterday after Nigerian Customs Service (NIS) officers shot sporadically while chasing rice smugglers.
The incidents occurred at Moshalashi and Kola Bus stops at Alagbado and Ajegunle in Alakuko area of Lagos.
It was gathered that the Customs operatives, allegedly attached to the Federal Operations, suddenly started shooting sporadically into crowded areas.
The four persons, who were said to have been hit by stray bullets, were commercial motorcyclists.
Among them, The Nation gathered, was a 25-year-old man identified as Saheed, whose wife was said to be pregnant.
It was gathered that the operatives, who rode on four patrol vehicles, took one of the victims as they fled. They were said to have injured about three other persons who were taken to an undisclosed hospital.
It was gathered that the operatives while fleeing, threatened to shoot policemen from Alakuko Division, who attempted to stop them.
A resident said the officers acted as though they were drunk.
He said: “It was around 7am. I was inside my house and suddenly I started hearing gunshots. I looked through the window to see what was happening and people were running. I saw about four vehicles belonging to Customs and the officers were just shooting anyhow.
“Later, I heard they were chasing rice smugglers but all the people they killed were Okada riders. Bullets hit one in the stomach, another person was hit on the leg and another one on the hand. About four people died. Blood was everywhere and the Customs men escaped.”
The Nation gathered that the residents took to the streets in protest against the operatives. They were said to have vandalised several properties and burnt tyres on the major roads, creating gridlock in the process.
Commercial motorcyclists were said to have attempted to raze an Oando gas station, where the Customs officers usually stayed but they were stopped by policemen led by the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) Commander, Tunji Disu, an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP).
Efforts to get the Customs’ spokesman, Uche Ejesieme’s reaction failed.
Police spokesperson Dolapo Badmos, a Superintendent (SP) said one person was killed.
She said: “Some Custom officials were on the trail of a vehicle, in the process they started shooting. One passerby was shot to death around Ajegunle in Alakuko. A patrol team led by the DPO of Alakuko Division, moved to the area to douse the tension.
“They fired sporadically and escaped from the scene. The dead body was evacuated to the morgue. Investigation is ongoing.”