BY FUNMI ALUKO
While carrying out its constitutional assignment bothering on national security and monitoring imports and exports, including economic anti-smuggling, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, suffered two different attacks leading to the killing of two officers; whilst the second attack escaped death by the whisker.
The incidents which happened in Kebbi and Katsina states respectively is coming as the latest in the series of barbaric and inhuman assault on the personnel of the service in recent time; a situation that calls for stiffer constitutional sanctions if meaningful level of deterrence must be achieved. According to statements released by the service, while the Thursday attack was carried out by suspected bandits, two personnel of the Kebbi Area Command, Inspector of Customs, Alhaji Kabiru Shehu and Customs Assistant I, Abdullahi Muhammad who were caught under crossfire during a gun dwell paid the supreme price; while another Inspector of Customs, Haruna A escaped vicious attack by hoodlums suspected to be smugglers earlier on Wednesday at a location known as Dambawa in Katsina State.
Speaking on the two dead officers in Kebbi, the Command Ag. Public Relations Officer, Mubarak Mustapha said incident happened while officers and men of the command were engaged on a stop-and-search operation based on credible information along Bunza – Dakingari – Koko Road, came under gun attacks by suspected bandits in an ash-coloured Toyota Corolla vehicle.
The statement reads: “On Thursday, 24th August 2023, at about 0128hrs, a team of Kebbi Area Command officers and men of the Nigeria Customs, while on a stop-and-search operation based on credible information along Bunza – Dakingari – Koko Road, were engaged with heavy gunfire by suspected bandits in an ash-coloured Toyota Corolla vehicle.
“In the melee that ensued, two personnel of the Command, named Alhaji Kabiru Shehu, an Inspector of Customs and Abdullahi Muhammad, a Customs Assistant II, paid the supreme price. The officers have since been laid to rest according to Islamic rites.
“The Customs Area Area Controller, Comptroller Ben Oramalugo, commiserates with the families on the tragic incident and prayed that God Almighty grants them the fortitude to bear the loss.”
He quoted the CA as appealing to members of the public to volunteer information about movement of suspected smugglers and other criminals, assuring such informants of confidentiality.
Also speaking on the violent attack on customs patrol team of the Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Operations Unit Zone ‘B’ Kaduna by suspected smugglers at Dankama area of katsina state, the Unit Public Relations Officer, SC Isah Sulaiman said the attackers who swooped on the unit’s operatives with dangerous weapons encircled Mubarak Mustapha before he could escape.
“At about 1300 hours on Wednesday, 23 August 2023, Officers and Men of Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Operations Unit Zone ‘B’, went on legitimate patrol duties to the Dankama Area of Katsina State. While carrying out their statutory duties of anti-smuggling, some hoodlums suspected to be smugglers launched a brutal attack on the Officers with dangerous weapons, thereby inflicting several injuries to Inspector of Customs (IC) Haruna A.
“The wounded Officer was immediately rushed to the hospital for proper medical attention and is responding to treatment”, Sulaiman said in his statement.
He said the Unit Controller, Comptroller Musa Ibrahim Jalo has warned that the service would no longer condone a repeat of such act, stating that no amount of attacks can instill fear into the psyche of his officers and men.
He further quoted the Unit Controller as that the Nigeria Customs Service is an agency that is saddled with the responsibility of enforcing government fiscal policies for collective societal good, and has the capacity to respond if pushed.
“The Unit’s Officers would not fold their arms and allow smugglers who have no regard for the laws of the land to perpetrate their nefarious activities to the detriment of our security and economic well-being. I am very about the injuries inflicted on this officer and have directed a full-scale investigation to fish out the perpetrators of this barbaric act.
“Any further attacks on any Officer of the Unit would not be tolerated and would be treated with utmost resistance from our Operatives. Let me state that such violent attacks will never deter my operatives from carrying out their legitimate duties, no matter whose ox is gored.”
The Unit Controller appealed to traditional rulers, parents and community leaders to warn their subjects to desist from attacking security operatives, as anyone caught shall face the consequences of his action.