A Customs officer serving in Akwa Ibom State was critically injured on Thursday after he was knocked down on a highway by a man who allegedly tried to evade duties check.
The man, who was later identified as Nsikanabasi Ese, a pastor, and founder of Kairos Rhema Embassy, Uyo, was driving in an SUV along Eket-Ikot Abasi-Port Harcourt Highway, in Onna Local Government Area of the state, when he was reportedly flagged down by Customs officers at a checkpoint around 10.30 a.m.
“He (the pastor) slowed down the vehicle, so we naturally thought he was pulling over,” the injured officer, Daneke Emmanuel, told journalists at Immanuel Hospital, Eket, where he was receiving medical attention. “At the point that we were relaxed, he fired back the engine at full throttle, and before I could dive to safety he had already hit me.”
The pastor, Mr. Ese, was said to have sped off after hitting the officer.
He pulled over the brown colour Toyota Highlander at a short distance along the highway when he noticed that a Customs vehicle was about giving chase, a Customs official who witnessed the incident said.
“He flung open the car door, walked away from the car and then suddenly slumped on the ground as though he was in great pains,” the witness said. “As we were about to find out what was wrong with him, another occupant of the car jumped onto the steering and ran away with the car.”
The Customs team drove both its injured officer and the pastor to the hospital.
The injured officer, a deputy superintendent of customs, was complaining of pains in his waist region when journalists met him. He could not move his right leg and was assisted to sit on a hospital chair by two other Customs officials.
A medical doctor in the hospital, Dickson Okonjko, said he attended to the 51-year-old officer around 12 noon and had to give him an injection to relieve him of pains. He said he had directed the officer be taken to a medical laboratory in Uyo, the state capital, where they could run some quick tests on him before treatment could commence.
When journalists enquired of the medical condition of the pastor, Dr. Okonjko smiled and then responded, “I have directed that x-ray should be done on him here in the hospital since he is complaining of chest pain”.
The pastor declined to comment on the incident when journalists met him in one of the wards in the hospital. An unidentified young lady was with him.
One of the customs officials said that they suspected that the pastor was pretending to be in pains to forestall the possibility of him being charged to court.
A handful of customs officials inside two of their trucks were seen arriving the hospital premises at about 3 p.m.