Hodlums and smugglers on Thursday chased men of the Nigeria Customs Service away from their patrol bases, checkpoints and outstations in Ihunbo, Ilaro and Imeko in Ogun State.
The weapon-bearing hoodlums reportedly invaded all the NCS checkpoints and outstations in the Ipokia, Yewa North and Imeko-Afon local government areas of Ogun State and set ablaze Customs officers’ tents.
They subsequently had a field day smuggling bags of rice on motorcycles from a neighbouring country into the country.
An eyewitness said, “They were many, carrying bags of rice and contraband goods into the country.
“They were armed with cutlasses and guns, but there was no shooting,
“The Customs men fled their duty posts and took cover. As I speak to you, the smuggling has been ongoing for over four hours.”
The eyewitness said the hoodlums went into jubilation after sacking the Customs officials from their checkpoints.
“The atmosphere was just like people celebrating the overthrow of a government. You cannot separate the smugglers from hoodlums and businessmen; they were celebrating the fact that Customs are off the road. It is either the border was opened to them or they opened it themselves.”
When contacted, the Public Relations Officer, NCS, Ogun Command 1, Hammed Oloyede, confirmed the attack.
Oloyede said the hoodlums attacked their the NCS patrol bases, checkpoints and outstations under the disguise of protesting against brutality by security agents.
He said, “Hoodlums attacked our checkpoints, patrol bases and outstations; they have burnt our tents. Smuggling is going on in broad daylight and our officers are getting attacked in Ihunbo, Ilaro and Imeko.
“We are looking at them now because if we engage them, the narrative will be Customs are killing people because of what is going on at the moment. Truly, they are hoodlums, but no one will believe us if we take action.
“We got information that they are coming to attack us in Idi-Iroko. There is no report yet at Ipokia.”
He added that the hoodlums also attempted to attack the customs warehouse at the border, but were resisted.
Oloyede said he made efforts to reach out to two prominent monarchs in the areas to caution their subjects but he could not get through to them.