At least three persons are currently nursing gunshot injuries, following a scuffle with men of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) yesterday along the Katsina-Daura road.
Eyewitness accounts said the incident took place at about 6.30am, as Customs officers on duty at the Tuna district of the area barricaded the road and started shooting sporadically, on sighting seven vehicles alleged to be loaded with smuggled rice.
Unconfirmed report said one of the suspected smugglers was killed on the spot while another, identified as Rabe, was shot in the stomach and his intestines ripped open.
As at the time of filing this report yesterday afternoon, Rabe was being treated at the K-Dara Hospital in Katsina.
Reports said two other suspected smugglers, Aminu and Aliyu, were shot in the arm and thigh respectively and were treated at the Katsina General Hospital.
When contacted, the Controller of the Katsina/Kaduna command of Customs, Mohammad Jaafar Tanko, denied that his men shot the suspects and attributed whatever injuries sustained to what he described as “confusion” when the suspects, “started hitting themselves, as they tried to run. But we were able to apprehend all the seven vehicles loaded with smuggled rice.
“The matter has been reported to the police and the injured have been taken to hospital and receiving treatment and as soon as they get better, we are prosecuting the matter, to serve as deterrent to others.”
He reaffirmed the determination of the Customs to zero-in on smuggling of rice and other items not allowed by government.
When contacted to shed more light on the incident, spokesman for the state police command, DSP Gambo Isah, said inquiries on the matter should be directed at the Customs.