July 17, (THEWILL) – Residents of Igangan, Ibarapa North Local Government Area of Oyo State, have been gripped by panic following an attack on the community and the neighbouring towns of Igboora, Tapa and Ayete.
Eyewitnesses said they did not know the number of persons killed by the gunmen, but that one of the sources claimed that the Amotekun Commander, simply identified as Muri, in the local government was killed.
While residents claim that the attack was carried out by armed herdsmen, the Nigeria Customs said they were smugglers.
Customs spokesperson, Federal Operations Unit Zone A, Theophilus Duniya, in a statement on Saturday, said the smugglers in eight trucks conveying contraband items launched an attack after being pursued by Customs officers.
Indigenes themselves reported that gunmen, suspected to be Fulani herdsmen, invaded Igangan and killed four residents, including the Commander of the South-West security arm, Amotekun.
SaharaReporters had reported that the gunmen, disguised in Customs uniform, stormed the town on Friday night, shooting sporadically.
The Commander of Amotekun Corps in Ibarapa Central simply identified as Muri and three other villagers were killed in the attack, a source said.
The attackers were said to have stormed the town in Hilux vans, an 18-seater Hummer bus, and a Toyota Sienna bus disguised as Customs officers and soldiers.
The Convener, Igangan Development Advocate, Oladiran Oladokun, confirmed the attack saying the incident was an attempt to invade the state through the axis, a border community but was resisted by the local security operatives.
Oladokun said the suspected “herders came in Customs and military camouflage to deceive our people and change the narrative that they were security operatives who stormed the town in search of smugglers.”
He expressed disappointment over inadequate security despite the recurrence of the attacks.
The latest attack is coming a few weeks after over 20 people were killed when gunmen suspected to be Fulani herders attacked the community.
Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho, had in February issued an eviction notice to herders in the area, after blaming them for insecurity in the area.
However, according to the statement by Duniya, three officers and a soldier were injured during the attack carried out on Friday night.
“The injured Customs Officers who are operatives of the Zone A, Federal Operations Unit, sighted eight trucks carrying smuggled foreign parboiled rice whose drivers and armed accompanying passengers launched an attack on the officers. One of the attackers was shot and disarmed while the others retreated with their smuggled wares,” the statement read in part.
The attackers were however repelled by the joint efforts of local vigilante groups.
The statement added that an investigation has been launched to arrest and prosecute the attackers.
It further said the attacked Customs officers and a soldier, including one that was shot in the head, are receiving treatment.
Acting Controller of the Unit, DC Usman Yahaya, condemned the attack and reiterated the resolve of the service to suppress smuggling.
The Unit, according to the Acting Controller, will never relent or be intimidated by attacks carried out by criminal elements unlawfully bearing arms and unleashing same on officers on legitimate duties.
Igangan has been under the spotlight for more than five years with clashes erupting intermittently between farmers and herders.
At least 11 people were killed after gunmen attacked the community earlier in June.
Some of the assailants were killed with houses and vehicles burnt during the attack.