Aliyu Mohammed, coordinator of the sector 4 command, joint border patrol team of the Nigeria customs service (NCS) in the north-west, says he had to offer seven bags of seized rice to bandits in exchange for freedom.
Addressing journalists in Katsina on Tuesday, Mohammed said the incident occurred in Dutsinma LGA of the state.
Mohammed was commenting on the challenges encountered by the customs officers in the discharge of their duties.
Narrating one of his encounters with bandits in a bush in Katsina, he said the gunmen asked for seven out of the 37 bags of rice they seized at the time, if the officers wanted to be released alive.
He also complained that the operatives do not get enough support from the people.
According to Mohammed, in one instance, smugglers organised some villagers to hurl stones at the customs officers.
“The challenge we have is that the people we are working for are not supporting us. If we have any problem, just accidental discharge in a village, the whole people will bounce on customs. If you make seizure, instead of the villagers to assist you, they may end up attacking you,” Mohammed said.
“I sacrificed my life to enter the bush where the bandits are — the last time we had contact with them — to the extent that they were a little bit friendly with us.
“We seized 37 bags of rice and they said if we are to go, they have to take seven bags. So, we gave them seven bags to save our lives.
“So, you see the risks we take, but people, especially those living along the border communities, engage in attacking our officers.”