Confusion As Custom And Army Officers Face Off At OshodiThere was panic in Oshodi, Lagos, on Thursday after some customs officers who allegedly traced six missing containers carrying contraband to Arena Market, a shopping centre, clashed with soldiers who tried to stop them from impounding the goods.
The Punch reports that the confrontation between both security agencies descended into a free-for-all resulting in a near complete disruption of commercial activities in the area.
At about 12pm, police vans, NCS vehicles and military vans were seen parked in the market.
A resident who witnessed the clash said the soldiers insisted that the customs officers had no right to enter a market managed by the military to impound goods.
He said, “The clash happened around 9am. The customs men had wanted to impound some containers; but some soldiers resisted the move, which led to a clash between the two security agencies.
“Nobody died or sustained injury, but there was tension in the market. Business activities were disrupted. It took the intervention of the Commanding Officer, 9 Brigade, to quell the fracas, as he gave an order that his men should allow customs officers to do their job.”
The spokesperson for the 81 division of the Nigerian Army, Colonel Samuel Kingsley, said the soldiers resisted the attempt of the customs officers to impound the goods because they originally refused to “follow due procedures.” He said they were later allowed to take the container away after due process was observed, adding, “The customs men trailed some contraband goods. But due process was not followed. When they got their procedures right, we allowed them to have access to the place.
“There are procedures. You don’t just enter the barracks without permission. We are not a lawless society and we do not allow such things. So, when the customs got their procedures right, they were allowed in. There was no commotion.”
However, Jerry Attah, the Public Relations Officer, NCS, Federal Operations Unit, Ikeja, Lagos State, denied that there was a clash between the military and the customs officers. He said the military actually assisted the customs to impound the containers.
He said, “We have a good working relationship with the military. Based on information, our men trailed six 40-foot containers to the Arena Market, and we contacted the Commanding Officer of the 9 Brigade. They gave us maximum cooperation and assistance.
“There was no commotion. We are waiting for the owners of the containers to come before we will open the containers for examination.”