The family of Custom Assistant II, Abdulsalam Rasheed, has cried out over lack of information from the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) on the fate of their missing son.
Rasheed has been missing for about six weeks in a botched operation by the NCS.
According to Waheed, his younger brother, Rasheed went on an operation with his colleagues on April 14 and were attacked by smugglers around Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway, after the toll gate.
“My brother and his colleagues were attached to the Federal Operations Unit in Lagos. We were told that the team was attacked by smugglers during the operation. He was the driver of the Customs official Hilux car for the operation.
“In the process, the smugglers overwhelmed the officers and they had to run away. Because my brother was driving the vehicle, he was captured by the smugglers, who had blocked the road and took him away.”
According to him, several visits by the family to the Federal Operations Unit, his brother’s office on Toyin Street in Ikeja, the Lagos State capital, had not yielded any result.
“They kept saying they were working on it. But information we got was that top officials of Customs refused to take action on the day of the incident.
“One of the team members told us that several calls made for reinforcement when they were being attacked went unheeded. Even when we visited their office, their lackadaisical attitude to the search for him clearly showed that they know more than they are telling us.
“People should help us to ask the Customs Service when they began the search for him; it was several days after the incident. That was when we started making noise; when he did not show up. That was when they formally reported to the police. They did not embark on a search immediately he went missing.
“Why should that be the case? Should they not be interested in locating their missing operative, considering that he went missing on an official assignment? Was he deliberately set up by some people in Customs? It is really very strange.”
According to the family of the missing Customs officer, the operation was embarked on due to intelligence that the smugglers would be operating that night.
“How come they are finding it difficult to get further information on his whereabouts? Also, the Customs impounded a bus load of rice, which was abandoned by the smugglers. Why has it been difficult to trace the owners of the vehicle, since it is a registered bus? The intelligence on the operation came from someone. So, why has it been difficult to use the same channel to get information about what has become of our missing brother?”
His wife, Basirat, who is nursing six-month-old twins, as well as his aged mother have been inconsolable since the incident.
“My mother has not been sleeping. She kept asking for him. His twin sons have continued crying, especially at night. It is really strange.”
According to Waheed, the police have arrested about seven people connected to the incident.
They were taken to court but nearly all of them have been granted bail.
“What do they know that they are not telling us?” Waheed asked.
He urged the Customs Comptroller General, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to “help us as there seems to be a conspiracy on this matter”.