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Kwara Customs command narrate attack by smugglers, reads riot act

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By Oluseyi Dasilva

Kwara Area Command of the Nigeria Customs Service has narrated the event of a clash between the Joint Border Operations Drill sector 3 of the Area command and some smugglers on January 8, 2021.

This is contained in a statement made available by Chado Zakari, Public Relations Officer of the Area command on behalf of the Coordinator, Joint Border Operations Drill Sector 3, Ilorin Kwara state.

The statement said: “At about 800hrs, Sector 3 security operatives at Ilesha Baruba while conducting stop and search at a checkpoint along with Saki – Ilesha Baruba axis, flagged down a Volkswagen Golf Vehicle (Red Colour with Registration No BDG 453 BH).

“The driver refused to stop, hence, the operatives pursued the vehicle which was successfully apprehended and moved back to the checkpoint for examination, wherein bags of foreign parboiled rice were found loaded in the vehicle.

“During the pursuit, the driver abandoned the vehicle and fled the scene. After a short period, the driver mobilised a large mob of organised smugglers and errant youths armed with sticks, stones and locally made weapons attacked the operatives and overran the checkpoint.

The operatives pulled back from the checkpoint with the seized Volkswagen Golf vehicle. The mob then set the checkpoint and all operational items and properties of the operatives at the checkpoint ablaze.”

The statement added that during the attack, personnel of the NPF sustained injuries and was evacuated for medical attention and was later in stable condition. “The team leaders in Ilesha Baruba immediately notified the Emir of Ilesha Baruba, the DPO and other resident operatives, who attempted to contain the mob to no avail. Reports indicate that the mob attempted to lynch the Emir, who had to be evacuated from the scene.

“After destroying the first checkpoint, the mob, at about 2300 hours, gathered more support in large numbers mostly from organised smugglers from other locations and mobilised to attack and destroy other operational checkpoints in the area. A section of the mob also proceeded on foot and in vehicles to the major operational base in Ilesha Baruba, where arms and ammunition, vehicles, seizures and other operational items are kept. On this note, the operatives mobilised to deter the attack and protect the operational base.

Therefore, the operatives had to fire warning shots to deter further attacks to overrun the base. At the time of the incident, information received from the Sector 3 team leaders on the ground at Ilesha Baruba indicate that 3 persons from the mob were killed during the attack, reportedly when their vehicle somersaulted when fired upon as they attempted to overrun the checkpoint.

The Sector HQ also immediately mobilised 4 X reinforcement teams from Okuta, Alapa, Ilorin and Nigerian Army 244 Recce Battalion in Saki to ensure that the operational base is held, and operatives are protected. The situation was eventually brought under control at about 0400 hours as a result of the reinforcement teams and the subsequent show of force. The corpses of the 3 casualties from the mob were taken by the DPO under the escort of own operatives and deposited at Baptist Hospital, Saki, in line with directives from the resident NPF Area Commander.”

The statement also added that on 9th January 2021, at about 0800 hours, its operatives held a meeting with the Emir, traditional heads, resident security agencies, Youth leaders and other stakeholders to work out modalities to identify the perpetrators, prevent a recurrence, sensitize the populace and ensure that law and order are maintained and normalcy restored.

The statement revealed that the Emir appealed to the operatives and all other stakeholders to exercise restraint, while he called for calm by the populace for an amicable work environment.

Meanwhile, Kwara state governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, has commiserated with families of those who died in the Friday fracas in Ilesha Baruba involving some residents and operatives of the Federal Government’s Joint Task Force on Border Patrol.

In a press release by Rafiu Ajakaye, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, made available to journalists, commiserated with the Emir of Ilesha Baruba, Prof. Halidu Abubakar, and families of those who lost their lives in the unfortunate incident.

“The governor sincerely commiserates with the Emir of Ilesha Baruba Prof. Halidu Abubakar, and families of those who lost their lives in the unfortunate incident. The incident is sad and definitely avoidable,” according to a statement by Chief Press Secretary to the Governor Rafiu Ajakaye.

“The governor, who has been in constant touch with all the stakeholders in the community, including the traditional institutions and security forces since the unfortunate incident, calls for continuous calm and restraints. He cautions against any activities that could trigger new tensions.

“A government delegation is to pay a condolence visit to the affected community, while findings will be conducted to establish all the facts and forestall a repeat of the sad and unfortunate incident.”

The Speaker, Kwara state House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Engr. Yakubu Danladi Salihu, also expressed displeasure over the clash that ensued between men of the Nigerian armed forces deployed to Ilesha Baruba, Baruten local government on Joint Border Drill and residents of the town.

The speaker in a statement issued by the Special Assistant on Media, Ibrahim Sheriff, lamented the circumstances that reportedly led to the fracas, leaving scores dead and others sustaining varying degrees of injury.

Danladi-Salihu, who noted that he is working with relevant authorities to ensure the matter is thoroughly investigated and that justice is served also appealed to residents of Ilesha Baruba to not take laws into their hands, maintain the peace that Kwara state is known for and go about their lawful businesses without fear or hindrance.

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