Following a report by PUNCH Metro, the Federal Operations Unit of the Nigeria Customs Service in Lagos State released two men, Babatunde Fatai and Ganiu Eniosun, who were accused of being smugglers in the state.
One of the victims, Fatai, while narrating his ordeal in detention, said he and Eniosun were detained for 29 days.
He explained that while in detention, they were beaten with machetes and handcuffed to a wall, adding that they were made to stand on their feet for hours.
While thanking PUNCH Newspapers for the report that made them regain their freedom, Fatai said members of their community also paid N250, 000 to the customs officers before they were released.
He said, “First, we thank the management of PUNCH Newspapers for reporting this matter because after the story came out, the officers stopped torturing us.
“The officers came from one checkpoint at Irobi not far from Ilaro town on October 12 and drove against the traffic at Iyana Egbado.
“When youths from our village told them to turn back, they took offence and started to shoot into the air while people ran away.
“I did not even know anything until I got to the junction of our village and saw that it was deserted. I was picked up and handcuffed. It was when we got to where they parked their vehicle that I saw that they had arrested Ganiu.”
Fatai said the customs officers labelled him and Ganiu smugglers, adding that despite pleas that they were motorcyclists, the officers detained them.
He said, “We were arrested by one of their units under FOU known as ‘team Jude’ whose officers threatened to waste us. We spent 29 days in detention and they accused us of using a Mazda bus to smuggle 39 bags of rice through Idiroko border into Nigeria.
“We told them that we are commercial motorcycle operators at Iyana-Egbado but they said unless our people pay N250,000 for their windscreen that was smashed, we would be shot.
“They finally released us on November 11 after the payment of N250, 000 with surety which they provided and he was paid N50, 000 from our money.”
Contacted, the spokesperson, NSC, Federal Operations Unit, Ikeja, Lagos, Peter Duniya, said he would get back to our reporter but had yet to do so as of the time of filing this report.