Last week Friday, July 10, a 28 year old trader, Kabiru Mohammed, dealing in second-hand shoes and was returning from the Seme border in his car. At about 5am, he was stopped at a checkpoint manned by customs officials around the Federal Government College area in Ijanikin.
According to reports, after the inspection by the NCS officials, Mohammed was told he could leave.
However, one of the thugs, reportedly working with the NCS officials, was said to have given Mohammed’s vehicle chase and thrown an object at the car tyres, which made the vehicle swerve and somersault. Mohammed reportedly died on the spot before he could be helped.
Policemen from the Ijanikin division and soldiers at another checkpoint in the area took Mohammed’s corpse away.
An eyewitness inform of a commercial driver, identified only as Suleiman, said when the officers and the thugs realised that Mohammed was dead, they fled the checkpoint.
He added that the thug hurled the object in error, thinking that Mohammed did not “settle” the customs officials.
He said, “It was about 5.30am. The man was coming from the Seme area and packed second-hand shoes in his vehicle. He was stopped by the customs officers, and he settled them.”
“They asked him to go, but one of the Kelebes (thugs) lurking around the checkpoint did not know the man had been cleared. He ran after him and threw the metal object under his tyre. The car climbed the object and the driver lost control of the vehicle.”
“The car somersaulted, and went off the road. The officers and the thug took to their heels immediately. I later heard it was the police and some soldiers who came to remove the corpse.”
A source in the area alleged that the thugs, who were commonly called Aja or Kelebe, usually worked with customs officers at the checkpoint to arrest traders carrying contrabands or those who refused to bribe them.
“The Kelebes do not wear uniforms, but you will see them lurking around the checkpoints. They collect money from the drivers, and harass people as if they were the customs officers. They always share the money collected,” he added.
The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Kenneth Nwosu, confirmed Mohammed’s death, and sent his condolences to the family:
“The police at Ijanikin recovered the corpse. What we have is a case of a fatal accident. Meanwhile, the family members have shown up at the division to request the body of their relative. It has been released to them.”
Uche Ejesieme, the Public Relations Officer, NCS, Federal Operations Unit, Ikeja, Lagos said the comptroller had ordered a detailed investigation into the incident. He added that the findings would soon be made public.
“We are investigating the cause of the incident. It is pertinent to note that it is not in our character to exhibit conducts capable of putting people’s lives at risks. The comptroller has ordered an investigation into the matter. Meanwhile, our hearts and condolences go to the family and dependents of the deceased.”