Kaduna state would have been thrown into another crisis as car dealers and Customs officials clashed on Thursday in Kaduna but for the timely intervention of the Kaduna State security outfit, code-named ‘Operation Yaki’.
In the melee, the car dealers set ablaze a Customs’ patrol vehicle.
The incident, which took place along the Rabah Road, in Kaduna North Local Government, occurred at about 3pm when Customs officials had gone on patrol to impound vehicles without import duties from car dealers in the city.
At about 4pm, the men of the Kaduna State Fire Service were still battling to put out the fire on the patrol vehicle.
Motorists and other road users as well as passersby scamper for safety while security operatives from the ‘Operation Yaki’ outfit cordon off the area.
An eyewitness told our correspondent that the Customs officials had gone to an unnamed car dealer’s showroom around the Isa Kaita road area and impounded about six luxury vehicles which they claimed had no import duties.
However, according to the eyewitness, on getting to the showroom, the Customs officials who were few in numbers, sensed there could be danger and decided to go back for reinforcement.
The car dealer, it was learnt, used the opportunity “to quickly hide some of the vehicles.”
“But the Customs officials were able to tow away four of the luxury vehicles,” he added.
Not done, the Custom officials came back to impound more vehicles, it was at this point, the car dealers mobilised and gave the officials a hot chase.
They (car dealers) caught up with the patrol vehicle and set it ablaze while onlookers cheered the efforts of the car dealers.
He said, “The Customs officials had gone to Issa Kaita Road to impound vehicles without import duties from an auto mart. They succeeded in impounding four of the vehicles but came back to tow the remaining two.
“As they took the remaining two, the car dealers mobilised and gave them a hot chase. Luck ran against the Customs’ driver as the dealers caught up with him, dragged him down and set the patrol vehicle on fire.”
When contacted, the spokesman for the Nigerian Customs Headquarters, Abuja, Joseph Attah, confirmed the incident, adding that the owner of the seized vehicles was already in their custody, noting that the law must take its cause.
Attah told our correspondent on the telephone that an innocent driver of the service was returning to the office from the zonal office at Kabala Coustain, in Kaduna when he was attacked by hoodlums who set the Customs patrol van ablaze.