The village head of Fagbohun community in Yewa South Local Government Area of Ogun State, Simeon Fagbohun, has accused the officers of the Nigeria Customs Service of invading the settlement causing villagers to flee their houses.
The accusation came days after the lifeless body of a customs officer was found in a river near the community, and another one declared missing following a clash between the officers and suspected smugglers.
Mr Fagbohun, who told journalists that the invasion was a reprisal, said the killing of the officer did not happen in his community.
He said the officers were attacked in Iya Sango village, five kilometres away from Fagbohun.
“I am here to clear some misinformation that I have read on the social media about our community about the death of some customs officers in that area,” said Mr Fagbohun.
“It is not in Fagbohun village the custom officers were killed, it is in Iya Sango village that they killed them but, the village is now defunct. It is the Ohori people that now stay in Iya Sango, they make little settlements there and are doing farming.
“This Iya Sango village is in Yewa land but Fagbohun is a village these smugglers used to pass, it is the biggest village on that axis, which has vulcanizers and schools.
“Those smugglers have a stopover in our village to fix their tyres and also eat. They stopped in a place called Eti Odo in Fagbohun village.”
The alleged attack
Mr Fagbohun said he was in Ilaro on October 26 when got a call around 7 p.m. that customs officers had arrested his elder brother and were taking him to an unknown destination. He said he was told that some smugglers had killed some of the officers.
The village head accused the customs officers of setting houses in the village ablaze, adding that villagers now live in fear.
“We saw that they have burnt the house of Adeoye Fagbohun, one of the sons of Fagbohun family, he is an elder brother to me, they burnt his house with three motorcycles. He is the one doing vulcanizing in the junction of the village where his house was, his vulcanizing machine was also burnt inside the house.
“Iya Alate’s house was also burnt, we all saw it with the police, there were three motorcycles in that house also. The house of Nathaniel was also burnt with one motorcycle. We now saw that the remaining houses like that of the Akao family in the village, they entered the house and brought out the motorcycles in the house and burnt them, three motorcycles were burnt there also.”
Mr Fagbohun said the officers did not burn Odunaro house but they took the motorcycles owned by people in the house and burnt them outside the house. They also did the same to the Ogundipe house, according to him.
“I also saw that they went into my own palace too, they looted my palace, they didn’t burn motorcycles in front of my house but I can’t find two motorcycles in my house.
“Also, our pumping machine, the farmers in the village bought, we want to use it for irrigation in the dry season, five pumping machines, they removed them from the cartons and we can’t find them.
“The machine we used to spray herbicides and other chemicals on the farm, seven of them have been taken, about 20 cartons of them are also missing, all my doors were forced opened.”
The police spokesperson in the state, Abimbola Oyeyemi, confirmed the incident but said he could not ascertain who the attackers were. He said the police will stop at nothing to unravel the perpetrators.
The spokesperson of the Ogun Area 1 command of customs, Hammed Oloyede, said he has no knowledge of an invasion by the officers.
The Public Relations Officer of the Federal Operating Unit, Zone A, Ikeja, Lagos, Theophilus Duniya, also denied there was an invasion.
He said although the command had lost two of its officers to the attack in the area, the operatives did not take the laws into their hands.
He said seven suspects were arrested with Dane guns and matchets and had been put in custody as murder suspects.
“In as much as we seek to have justice for the slain officers, we cannot take the laws into our hands by destroying people’s property. So, whatever the claims are, were not executed by our operatives,” he said.