Kunle Idowu

Ayetoro town in Yewa North Local government area of Ogun State was yesterday thrown into grief and anxiety when suspected smugglers and men of the special anti smuggling task force of the Nigeria Customs Service clashed, leaving one dead and several others injured.

Hallmark reliably learnt that the incident occurred when the customs officials swooped on a warehouse in the town,s bags of rice believed to have been smuggled.

Sources revealed that a man whose name was given Sola Soga was killed by stray bullet, sparking confusion in the town.

The happening is said to be sending jitters down the spines of residents of the town, as most of them are currently scampering for safety.

The incident occurred months after a customs official was gunned down in Oke Ore town, along Ajilete, Owode -Idiroko road.

It was gathered that men of the Nigeria Customs Service stormed Ayetoro town, following a tip-off that smuggling activities were going on in some parts of the town.

“The NCS invaded the area with lorry loads of its men, they had loaded all the rice stocked in a warehouse in the area. But as they were about to leave the town, the owner of the warehouse approached them for a possible settlement, but in order to forestall possible attack, an unknown custom man fired a shot to scare him away, which resulted in the death of Soga,” a source said.

“The shooting elucidated a lot of resistance from the youths who barricaded all the roads leading to the town.

” It was then that the Customs men called for reinforcements from their men in other areas like Idiroko and stormed the town and started shooting sporadically into the air.”

A source also confirmed that the NCS personnel acted on tip-off that there were smuggled rice stocked in the area.

He said Soga was shot from a distance by a trigger-happy officer.

“The boy (Soga) was far from where the Customs officers were when one of them fired gun at him from long distance and the gun hit him in the chest. He died immediately,” he said.

“There was no smuggled rice in the car when the Customs personnel got to Ayetoro, but I believe that they acted on information.”

The action of the Customs officers triggered protest in the town and they barricaded all roads that led to the town.

The NCS had to called for reinforcement from Idiroko and other areas in the command, as well as soldiers.

“The situation in Ayetoro is so tense now. As NCS officers and soldiers moved from house to house threatening residents to come out and be killed,” the source said.

“Apart from Soga that was killed, I can confirmed that bullets from the customs men hit several people as a boy not also far from the area was hit on his leg, he was carried to an unknown place for possible treatment by his friends.

“As I speak to you now, the whole town is in crisis and we need the intervention of government to call these custom men to order”

Efforts by Our correspondent to get the reaction of the spokesperson of the Federal Operation Unit of the service, Peter Duniya, was unsuccessful as calls put across to his mobile number was not going.