A Customs officer attached to the Federal Operations Unit, Zone A, Ikeja Lagos has been abducted by dare devil smugglers after a fierce encounter around Ota community in Ogun state on Saturday.
Apart from the missing officer identified as Rasheed Abdulsalam, some of his colleagues also sustained varying degrees of injuries in the encounter.
Confirming the incident, the Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Joseph Attah, said plans were afoot to rescue the abducted officer, describing Sango Ota axis of Ogun State as a den of smugglers.
It was learnt that the Customs operatives, upon receipt of intelligence report on smugglers’ activities, left their Federal Operations Unit headquarters at about 9:10pm on Saturday. They were accompanied by some soldiers in a bus and a Toyota Hilux van that was driven by the kidnapped officer, Abdulsalam.
But unknown to them, the smugglers had laid an ambush just after the popular ShopRite retail store, which is also very close to a filling station along the busy Lagos-Abeokuta expressway.
According to Attah, the anti-smuggling operatives, on running into the smugglers, could not open fire as a tanker was discharging petrol at that time and any incendiary material could have thrown the entire vicinity into a ball of fire.
“They also didn’t want any stray bullet to hit anyone. So, they exercised restraint.
“That location made it very difficult for our men to fire a single shot. The smugglers pelted their vehicles with petrol just looking for how the area will be set ablaze and swell the number of casualties. But they didn’t succeed.
“Sensing the danger, our men found a way to escape from the vicinity but not without picking one of the buses used in smuggling”, Attah explained.
But Abdulsalam, it was gathered, was unlucky as the smugglers swooped on him while he tried to assist the second driver who drove the bus. He was eventually abducted and his colleagues only got to know when the dusts settled and he could not be accounted for.
The Customs management is in the dark on his whereabouts as no staff has established contact with Abdulsalam, neither have his abductors opened any communication channel whatsoever.
The Customs spokesman appealed to people of Sango Ota to join the Service in its anti-smuggling efforts by denying sanctuary to smugglers and providing useful information on their nefarious activities.