By Kolawole Olayinka, Abeokuta
It was a bad weekend for residents of Owode-Yewa Community in Ogun State as Rildwan Bello, a 17-year-old boy of Community High School Owode, killed on Friday by operatives of Nigeria Customs Service was being laid to rest.
Tears flowed freely as many watched the cold remains of the boy killed during a shootout with smugglers.
Palpable gloom pervaded the air at the Palace of the Olu of Owode-Yewa, Oba Rev. Sunday Akindele. Many residents of the sleepy town were meeting with the monarch to commiserate with him and register their grief.
The family members of the late Bello had earlier beseiged the General Hospital in the town to make preparations for the collection of the remains of the boy identified as an SS2 student of Community High School, Owode.
Following some deliberations, the family later resolved to insist that a proper medical autopsy be conducted on the corpse to ascertain the cause of death.
According to the family, the deceased was holding plates intending to go and buy “koko”, a favorite delicacy in that part of the state when he was killed.
According to them, the boy was just leaving his house at the time he was hit by a stray bullet, disclosing that he was far away from the scene of shootout between operatives of Customs and smugglers.
This much was confirmed by the Owode Monarch, Oba Akindele when WESTERN POST spoke with him.
“We have called a meeting of the family of the deceased. We are insisting an autopsy be conducted on the corpse. We were at the hospital this morning. They have asked us to come back on Monday. It is so unfortunate that an innocent young boy was cut short in his prime stage,” he said.
The monarch added: “He was not at the scene of hostility. Those who killed him owe Nigerians an explanation on why through their carelessness they eliminated this boy.”
About 12 customs men, while raiding locked–up shops in the area in search of suspected smuggled rice and other contraband goods, had begun shooting into the air even as traders and other passersby scampered for safety, just as the operatives carried away bags of rice, sugar among others last Friday.
An eyewitness said while the raid lasted, the operatives maintained hostility, apparently to ward off any counter–attack or violent resistance from the people and in the process a stray bullets struck the boy on the head.
The source said Bello instantly dropped to the ground and died in a pool of his blood from the impact of the gunshot wound.
As the confusion and tension heightened with some youths threatening violence, soldiers and policemen hurried to the scene to help restore normalcy to the troubled Owode town, which eyewitnesses said initially overwhelmed NCS operatives.
The Public Relations Officer, Customs Area Control, Ogun I Command, Mr. Abdullahi Maiwada, confirmed the development but insisted that the boy killed was a cult member.
In a telephone interview, Maiwada added that the Command had, however, launched an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident, pledging to make the outcome of the investigation known when completed.