Government officials addressing the protesters

By Adejoke Adeleye

Smugglers in Ogun stormed the road leading to the governor’s office in Abeokuta on Tuesday to protest the killing of one of their members by operatives of the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS.

The customs were said to have shot and killed a suspected smuggler and injured three others at Orile-Imo.

The protesters said they could no longer bear the hardship and injustice meted out to their members by the Nigerian customs and called on the government to intervene.

One of the smugglers who spoke with newsmen on condition of anonymity, said on several occasions when their rice or car goods arrived Ita-Osun Kobape area of Ogun state, they would always put calls across to customs that their goods had arrived and that they normally collect N5000 on every good most, especially cars.

“Every time goods arrive Ita-Osun we put a call to them and they will come to collect money from us. We used to do this so that they will not disturb us and they will still go behind us by calling their colleagues from Ikeja-Lagos to accost us.

“After collecting money from us they will call their colleagues from Ikeja to come and accost us again. Sometimes they seize goods worth of N5 million from us depending on how many cars we are able to acquire per day. Every time they collect N5000 from us per car, if we are able to acquire 100 cars from our base at Ita-Osun , they collect N500,000,” he said.

“Today, we were done with our business at our base at Ita-Osun and we were on our way when they suddenly attacked us at Orile-Imo area of Sagamu, Ogun State where one of us Lekan was shot in the chest and stomach and three sustained injuries,” he lamented.

The protesters called on the state governor, Dapo Abiodun to come to their aide as customs officers continued to kill them after collecting huge sums of money from them.

“We are here to appeal to the government to come to our aide, we don’t go to Cotonou to buy our cars and rice, we buy them here in Ogun and they cannot continue to kill us. This is what we know how to do, we can’t steal or do money ritual.

“We settle them every time we buy goods so that they won’t disturb us or us business.” he cried out.

The Secretary to the State Government (SSG) ,Mr Tokunbo Talabi, appealed to the protesters and assured them of appropriate actions, as the welfare of the citizens is paramount to the government.