Igbo Ora shooting: Oyo State, Customs trade blames
Government and people of Oyo State and officials of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) weekend engaged in blames and counter blames over reported attacks at Igbo Ora, Ibarapa North Local Government, by men of the NCS believed to have left three civilians dead.
The said attack also reported left three customs operatives mortally injured in addition to a soldier attached to the NCS, Federal Operations Unit Zone A, with head office in lkeja Lagos.
A statement by the FOU Zone A earlier today, claimed that three of its officers and a soldier who were on duty at Igbo Ora evening of yesterday, July 16, 2021 at about 8:00pm were injured in an unprovoked attack by smugglers.
According to the Unit Public Relations Officer, Theophilus Duniya, armed suspects allegedly accompanying eight trucks purportedly loaded with rice opened fire on the officers, allegedly without provocation.
Although the gun attack according to the unit spokesman left three of its officers and a soldier on secondment to the unit injured, they succeeded in shooting and disarming one of the attackers, noting that a gun used in the attack was recovered.
But reacting, the state government, traditional and political leaders expressed sadness at the development and also faulted the claims of the customs, saying the former is the trouble maker. They claimed that the customs invaded the community and began shooting indiscriminately, sending people running helter skelter, even as they said the alleged invasion left three dead, including an operative of Igbo Ora.
They accused customs of failing to carry out their duty at the border line and communities, and allegedly coming to townships to harass, intimidate and to attack civilians.
Narrating what happened briefly, the Customs statement reads, “Three Customs Officers and a soldier on duty were injured in an unprovoked attack by smugglers in Igbo Ora area of Ibarapa Local Government, Oyo State in the evening hours of Friday, July 16 , 2021 at about 8:00pm.
“The injured Customs Officers who are operatives of the Zone A, Federal Operations Unit, sighted 8 trucks carrying smuggled foreign parboiled rice whose drivers and armed accompanying passengers launched attack on the officers.
“One of the attackers was shot and disarmed while the others retreated with their smuggled wares. While investigations are ongoing to arrest and prosecute the attackers, all the attacked Customs Officers and soldier, including one that was shot in the head, are receiving treatment.”
The statement quoted acting Controller of the Unit, Deputy Comptroller Usman Yahaya as condemning the attack, noting that no amount of provocation and attacks will stop the customs service from performing its assigned duty.
He said, “The Unit will never relent or be intimidated by this unwarranted attacks by criminal elements unlawfully bearing arms and unleashing same on officers on legitimate duties.”
In its reaction, officials of the state government and traditional leaders, denounced the alleged invasion, which they aunanimously described as a theatre of war that purportedly left behind it unwarranted bloodbath.
According to the Olu of Igbo Ora, Oba Jimoh Olajide Titiloye, customs men came into the community and started shooting at will, killing three in the process, and leaving blood and sorrow.
He said, “The raid left so much turmoil in our communities as the Customs men came, shooting sporadically. Many of our people ran helter-skelter. We want it stated loud and clear that our communities, Igbo Ora, Igangan and Ayete are not border towns. Why should Customs turn the communities to theatres of bloodshed and war?
“We want Customs to regulate their operations. It will be better if the authorities restrict them to border towns to end unwarranted attacks on innocent communities.”
Also speaking, Ibarapa North Local Government Chairman, Hon. Adedoyin, said the attack has destroyed the fragile peace put together in the area, following the spate of unrest allegedly by herders attack and those of customs.
“We have received the cooperation of state and non-state actors in our efforts aimed at boosting security. The hunters, Amotekun and other security agencies have been cooperating fully, but we were shocked to hear reports of sporadic gunshots and commotion that ensued after a raid by men of Customs Service.
“That raid is regrettable because it threatened the peace of our area,” the Council Chairman said.
On his part, the Executive Assistant to Governor Makinde, simply identified as Odukoya, however called for calm and vigilance, as he assured that the state government community policing and the integrated policing initiative has the capacity to restore peace and order.
He reportedly said that the police in the area have confirmed the death of one Amotekun operative and two other persons following the alleged raid.