Some officers of the Nigeria Customs Service allegedly killed a trader, Samuel Apase, on Wednesday, June 29, at the Badagry Roundabout, Lagos State which triggered the mob to go on rampage.
The ugly incident started when the officers had intercepted Apase in the Muwo area of Badagry and seized a Toyota Camry, which he allegedly used to smuggle bags of rice and frozen foods.
The officers reportedly took the vehicle away while Apase boarded a motorcycle to trail them.
He was said to have c@ught up with the officers at the Badagry Roundabout and pleaded to pay some money to get the car and the goods released during which an altercation ensued while Apase was negotiating with the officers, who reportedly got enraged and opened fire on him.
According to Punch, a trader, who sold barbecued meat (suya) in the area, and a passerby, were hit by stray bullets in the process.
Some Good Samaritans were said to have rushed the injured victims to the Badagry General Hospital for treatment while Apase’s corpse was deposited in the hospital’s morgue.
An eyewitness, Adeleke Adesiji, said some hoodlums around the scene of the incident went on the rampage and smashed the windscreen of a patrol van used by the officers.
Adesiji added that the officers later fled the scene with their vehicle and the seized car.
He said, “The officers chased Apase with their vehicle to Muwo, where they collected the car from him. After they had left with the car, he followed them to the Badagry Roundabout and tried to ‘settle’ them so that he could have the car back.
“I think their negotiation went awry and they started arguing with each other. They shot him and he died on the spot. A mallam, who sells ‘suya’ and another man were hit by stray bullets. They have been taken to the hospital. A mob vandalised the windscreen of the customs’ vehicle.”
A resident, Oluwaseun Babalola, blamed Apase’s death on the customs officers’ recklessness, saying the deceased was not confrontational.
He said, “The officers were unprofessional in the way they handled the matter. If they perceived his (Apase’s) attempt to get his goods and car back as bribery, the best thing was to arrest him. He was not armed; so why did they pull their triggers?”
A trader, who identified herself as Olaide, said the shooting caused panic in the neighbourhood.
But the NCS spokesperson, Badagry Command, Taopeng Selchang, said some hoodlums attacked the officers and injured the patrol van’s driver while the seized goods from Apase were being taken away.
He said the officers only shot into the air to disperse the hoodlums. What an excuse!