A few days ago, Otunba Yomi Olomofe, a journalist and Executive Director of Badagry Prime Magazine, narrowly escaped death when attacked recently by some hardened smugglers at Seme border, Badagry inside the premises of the Nigerian Customs office.
Recounting his ordeal, Olomofe said that he was invited by one Ibrahim Turaki, an Assistant Comptroller General in-charge of import activities, to mediate between the commission and a journalist from Tide newspaper, who was working on an investigative story concerning the impropriety in import activities at the border.
According to Olomofe, “I was invited on Thursday, June 25, for a meeting at about 3:00pm with a journalist from Tide newspaper. At the meeting, there was a senior Custom officer in attendance and there was another ‘gentleman’ there who is always around the border, known as Big Sam, and he can easily verify the authenticity of my ordeal.
“The journalist from Tide newspaper had sometime been investigating a story concerning some impropriety in import activities and I was called to come and attend to it because I have been handling such media issues for some years now.
“The meeting lasted for about 50 minutes and at the end of the meeting with the colleague journalist, the Custom officers and the acclaimed clearing agent, Big Sam, amicably appealed to the journalist to drop the news story he was working on as some facts was released to him at the meeting and the officers promised to give him information anytime the need arises as the information he had, contained some inaccuracies.
“Immediately I stepped out of my Custom officer friend’s office, about 16 smugglers from nowhere within the premises pounced on me and moved me outside, still around the vicinity of the Custom’s premises, shouting on the top of their voices that once they kill me, no other journalist will come around to investigate any story, that concerns them or their activities at the border. They claimed that my death would serve as a deterrent to other journalists who want to do any story.
“Meanwhile, every attempt to explain that my coming was on a peace mission, fell on deaf ears. I clearly heard one of the leaders of the gang, Alhaji Momoh, popularly called ‘Basket’, himself and another character who are also very popular around Seme border, known as ‘Shehu’ and ‘Elijah’, in company of 14 other ‘smugglers’. Ferociously looking, they descended on me, beat me mercilessly and cudgeled me at the back of my head until I passed out and went into a Coma.
“When I was revived, I could see how I narrowly escaped death. By-standers at the scene later told me they heard ‘Basket’ shouting, ‘I will kill you’!
Olomolofe also said that people around the Seme border have records of people he had killed before now, most of whom were ‘journalists’.”
By-standers at the scene of the assault said men of the Custom later shot into the air to disperse the hoodlums after Olomofe had been beaten to Coma and taken to the mess and thereafter assisted by Alhaji Bamidele Azeez, a Rotary Club official and the past chairman of the Association of Licensed Customs Agents who asked that an ambulance be released from the Badagry Local Government.
However, Otunba Yomi Olomofe, has called on the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase; Assistant Inspector General of Police in-Charge of Zone 2, Mr Joseph Mbu, and the D.P.O of Area ‘K’ Division to look into the matter painstakingly and provide security for him and his family as the hoodlums still threaten his life and that of his family.
He recalled that many journalists have lost their lives in the hands of the smugglers in the past unreported. “I was only lucky to have narrowly escaped death”, he added.
Now, the question Nigerians must ask men of the Nigerian Custom at the border is that, why would they allow their guest to be beaten to a state of Coma right under their nose?