There was tension at the Nigerian Army Shopping Arena, Bolade, in the Oshodi area of Lagos State on Thursday as some officers of the Nigeria Customs Service clashed with soldiers in the market.
Our correspondent gathered that trouble started when the customs officers traced six missing containers, suspected to have carried contraband, to the market and moved to impound them.
PUNCH Metro learnt that soldiers at the market prevented the customs officers from impounding the containers, which were driven into the shopping arena, commonly called Arena Market.
It was learnt that there was panic in the market, as the customs officers engaged the soldiers in a free-for-all, during which business activities were disrupted.
When PUNCH Metro got to the area around 12pm, police vans, NCS vehicles and military vans were observed in the market.
A resident, who identified himself only as Michael, said the soldiers insisted that the customs officers did not have the right to impound anything in the military market.
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 customs men initially did not “follow due procedures,” adding that they were allowed to take the containers away when due process was followed.
He said, “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.”
The Public Relations Officer, NCS, Federal Operations Unit, Ikeja, Lagos State, Jerry Attah, confirmed that the customs seized six containers from the market, adding that the military men assisted in the arrest, and there was no clash.
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.”
The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, SP Dolapo Badmos, had yet to reply to a text message sent to her phone on the incident.