The Nigeria Customs Service, Kwara Command, has said that three persons died during a mob attack on its sector 3 checkpoint and operational base in Ilesha-Baruba area of the state, according to Mr Zakari Chado, the command’s Public Relations Officer (PRO).
In a statement in Ilorin, on Saturday, Chado said information received from the Sector 3 team leader in Ilesha-Baruba indicated that the three persons were part of the mob that attacked the checkpoint and attempted to overrun the base.
The PRO said: “On January. 8, at about 8 pm, 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
“The vehicle was red coloured with registration number BDG 453 BH. The driver refused to stop, hence the operatives pursued the vehicle and successfully apprehended it. During the pursuit, the driver abandoned the vehicle and fled the scene.
”The vehicle was moved to the checkpoint for examination, wherein bags of foreign parboiled rice were found loaded in the vehicle”.
He added that after a short period, the driver mobilised a large mob of organised smugglers and errant youths, armed with sticks, stones and locally made weapons.
“They attacked the operatives and overran the checkpoint. The operatives pulled back from the checkpoint with the seized vehicle. The mob then set the checkpoint and all operational items and property ablaze,” he said.
He further said that after destroying the first checkpoint, at about 11 pm the mob gathered more support in large numbers from mostly organised smugglers in other locations, to attack and destroy other operational checkpoints in the area.
“The mob proceeded on foot and in vehicles to the major Operational Base in Ilesha-Baruba, where arms and ammunition, vehicles, seizures and other operational items were kept.
“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,” he said.
He stated that the deceased may have lost their lives when their vehicle somersaulted as operatives opened fire to stop their attempt to overrun the checkpoint.
Chado said that during the attack, a policeman sustained injuries and was moved for medical attention, as the operational team leaders in Ilesha-Baruba, immediately notified the Emir of the area, the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) and other resident security operatives.
The PRO said that the situation was eventually brought under control at about 4 am, as a result of the arrival of reinforcement teams and the subsequent show of force.
“The corpses of the three 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 Police force area commander,” Chado said.
“The Sector headquarters immediately mobilised more reinforcements from Okuta, Alapa, Ilorin and Nigerian Army 244 Recce Battalion in Saki, to ensure that the Operational Base is held and operatives are protected.
“At about 8 am on Jan.9, the operatives held a meeting with the Emir, traditional heads, resident security agencies, Youth leaders and other stakeholders
“They plan to work out modalities to identify the perpetrators, prevent a recurrence, sensitize the populace and ensure that law and order is maintained and normalcy restored,” he said.
Chado further said that the Emir appealed to the operatives and all other stakeholders to exercise restraint.
Meanwhile, the Coordinator of Joint Border Operations Drill sector 3, Comptroller Olugboyega Peters, has called on parents, guardians, community leaders, religious leaders and opinion-moulders in the area, to caution their wards against violence.
The PRO quoted him as assuring that the sector would do everything humanly possible, within the ambit of the law, to protect government property and ensure that peace prevailed at all cost.