Three persons were shot dead yesterday, during a shootout between hoodlums and some officers attached to the Federal Operations Zone A, Ikeja, of the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, at White Sand community in Ijora Badia area of Lagos State.
Three others, among who was a Customs officer, also sustained gunshot injuries.
Trouble started, Monday, following a clash between Hausa and Yoruba residents over accusation by the latter that the former had been terrorising the area.
A resident, Tajudeen Shamsudeen, explained that a boy, identified as Ojo, said to be on his way home, was allegedly stabbed to death by some Hausa boys.
Shamsudeen said: “For long, these Hausa boys have been attacking people here. They waylay people, dispose them of cash and belongings. Even rulers of both ethnic groups are aware of the issue.”
The attack on Ojo, according to him, sparked a riot during which dangerous weapons were freely used by both parties.
But for the timely arrival of policemen from Ijora Badia, the situation would have assumed a violent dimension. 10 persons were said to have been arrested in connection with the unrest.
Vanguard gathered that demolition of shanties in the troubled community started yesterday morning.
While unconfirmed reports had it that it was on the order of the state government, the Hausa alleged that the demolition was carried out in their places of abode only.
While the demolition was ongoing, some Custom officers, who residents alleged were invited by the Seriki Hausa, stormed the community in three patrol vehicles at about 2.30p.m. They were alleged to have fired sporadically to scare off some hoodlums, who were roaming the area.
The hoodlums were said to have resisted the Customs men, who allegedly attempted to stop the demolition, an action that led to a shootout, during which three persons were felled by bullets.
One of the bullets from the hoodlums hit a Customs officer. The Customs men then fled the scene, heading towards Apapa.
As at 5p.m., Vanguard gathered that the injured officer was being treated at the Lagoon Hospital, Apapa, with two police patrol vans stationed within the hospital premises.
One of those hit by a stray bullet was Azeez Tajudeen. Eyewitnesses said he was first taken to the police station for a police report, before being rushed to an undisclosed hospital.
Confirming the incident, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Dolapo Badmus, a Superintendent of Police, however, said only one person died, while two others are recuperating in the hospital.
She said:”The community and the police were on a joint operation of raiding black spots within the community and arresting suspected criminals yesterday.
“In the process, some officers of the Nigerian Customs Service officers, who were with officials of the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, had an encounter with some of the hoodlums.
“They fired some shots and three people were hit. As a result, one death was recorded, while two others are receiving treatment in the hospital. Policemen are not involved.”