Commuters and passersby were caught in a pandemonium that broke out on Wednesday at the Abule Egba area of Lagos State when operatives of the Nigerian Customs Service opened fire on suspected smugglers’ vehicles.
The shootings claimed the life of one Toyeeb Olayiwola and allegedly left three others injured.
The officials attached to the Federal Operations Unit, Ikeja, were said to have chased some vehicles conveying suspected smuggled rice from the Sango-Ota area of Ogun State.
On getting to the Abule Egba under bridge area around 6am, they reportedly opened fire on one of the vehicles.
A bullet hit the head of Olayiwola, who was lying on some bags of rice in the bus. He died on the spot.
Not done, the officials were said to have moved into a commercial tricycle park in the area and continued firing at the occupants of the other vehicles, who had disembarked to protest the killing.
The suspected smugglers reportedly hurled stones at the officials, while the shootings intensified.
The chaos was said to have caused confusion as commuters and passersby scampered to safety.
A tricycle rider, who gave his name only as Samuel, said the officials, numbering about six, later fled the scene in their operational van.
He said, “The incident happened around 6am. I learnt the Customs men were chasing the vehicles from the Sango area. On getting to Abule Egba under bridge, they started shooting. The man that died was lying on some bags of rice.
“It was a time people were going to work. People were running helter-skelter amid gunshots. Apart from the man that was killed, about three persons were hit by stray bullets. The injured were taken away on motorcycles. During the shootings, the streetlights went off, which heightened the confusion. After the Customs men left, the protesters created bonfires on the road, which caused traffic.”
Our correspondent learnt that operatives of the Oke-Odo Police Division, who mobilised to the scene, called for reinforcements from the Rapid Response Squad and the Lagos State Task Force on Environmental and Special Offences (Enforcement) Unit, to restore normalcy.