… corps member, others recount narrow escape
By Adebayo Olodan and Ahmed Ajkobi
A week after dare-devil armed robbers sacked the residents of Offa in Offa Local Government Area of Kwara State; a four- minute footage of the incident has gone viral online.
The video which is titled; ‘The Robbery in Offa through CCTV is available on Youtube.’
Recall that the robbery incident left no fewer than 30 policemen and civilians dead and several others sustaining various degrees of injuries.
Armed robbers numbering about 50 were said to have invaded Offa, attacking virtually every creature at sight and carting away millions of naira from seven commercial banks in an operation that lasted about 70 minutes.
The affected banks were; Eco Bank, First Bank, Guarantee Trust Bank, Zenith Bank, Union Bank , Stockcorps Micro Finance Bank and Ibolo Micro Finance.
Also not spared in the deadly attack is the Owode Police Station were all the officers on duty including a couple who had visited the facility over marital issues were gunned down.
The footage was reportedly captured by the Close Circuit Television (CCTV) camera installed at the GTB, Offa, one of the banks where the robbery incident took place.
From the short footage, a security man and a man on white attire, who seem to be his friend, were noticed to have deserted their post after sighting two fully armed robbers firing shots at them from outside the bank premises.
Also, a female bank customer wearing Hijab seen to be holding a little girl was captured scampering for safety immediately sound of the gunshots resonated. The CCTV however did not capture whether any of those bullets actually hit the fleeing security man or his colleague.
Another armed man was discovered to have joined his colleagues as they shattered the security post with dynamite.
They subsequently launched similar attack apparently on the banking hall entrance. Each time they launched an attack with the grenade, the robbers retracted some metres before making the next move.
While the armed robbers were operating, residents, passers-by and shop owners were noticed scampering to safety to avoid being hit by stray bullets. Also, vehicular movement was discovered to have seized towards the last two minutes of the footage.
Meanwhile, a number of residents of Offa have taken to social media platforms to narrate how they escaped being killed in the dastardly robbery attack. Among the escapees is a corps member, who last weekend took to her tweeter handle; @Pweechhorlar and wrote, “ I was there at the Union Bank ATM stand… Thanking God for life…I just want to serve my fatherland and leave Offa. I wished it never happened.”
Similarly, another social media user simply identified as Sheriff via his tweeter handle @Shafman said, “I was about to buy recharge card and I saw people running around Owode area in Offa, I did bother to ask question but I joined them in running.”
In her narration, a student of Mass Communication Department of Federal Polytechnic Offa, who gave her name as Damola said she waited for some minutes outside the bank for a friend that had gone into the banking hall to deposit money, not knowing the armed robbers were already operating. She stressed that it was providence that saved her and her friend from being added to the list of casualties of the sad incident.
…attack spontaneous and simultaneous – Commissioner
The Kwara State Commissioner of Police, Lawan Ado has offered reasons why his officers could not foil the banks robbery attack on Offa last Thursday, saying the bandits upon arrival in the town divided themselves into two teams, with the first team confining officers at the nearest police station while the other unleashed terror on bank premises and residents.
Speaking on the incident, the Police Commissioner informed Premium Times last weekend that, “Because they came in large number, they were able to divide themselves, attacking the banks and attacking the police station at the same time. They demobilised the police station.”
The strategy, which the state police spokesperson described as “spontaneous and simultaneous”, saw the robbers spend over one hour without any potent resistance from law enforcement authorities, according to eye witness accounts.
The latest attack is coming almost five years after a similar incident happened in the town, on another Thursday December 13, 2013 where armed robbers hit four banks. The attack left seven police officers and about a dozen civilians dead.
Residents decried police’s failure to learn from the 2013 incident five years later, especially since it affected the same police station and some of the same banks that were affected in the same neighbourhood.
Even if the police had reinforcement nearby, it would have been logistically problematic to dispatch, said Kwara police spokesperson, Ajayi Okasanmi.
“Actually, we don’t have helicopter in Kwara State,” Okasanmi told the online medium on the telephone Monday night.
“It was a spontaneous and simultaneous attack,” Mr Okasanmi, a deputy superintendent of police, said. “It also happened close to a market place.”
“So people abandoned their vehicles on the road and routes that some police officers around could have taken were already blocked,” he added.
Mr Okasanmi said the division had about three dozen officers, but by the time the robbers struck, a few of them were unavailable.
“We have shortage of manpower by way of death, retirement and incapacitation, so we cannot say we have all the staff there,” he said.
…group set to immortalise victims
A Non-Governmental Organisation, Kwara Must Change has stated its readiness to immortalise the victims of last Thursday’s robbery attack in Offa.
The group stated that the purpose of the collation is to properly remember the departed, immortalise them and use their encounter as a motivating factor to prevent future occurrence.
Kwara Must Change, in a statement issued and signed by its Coordinator, Abdulrazaq Hamzat however appealed to residents of Offa, who may know any of the victims to reach out to the group.
The group however sympathised with families of the victims especially the husband of the alleged first casualty; one Mrs Oyinlola Ajogbe Shakirat.
The 27-year-old was said to have been survived by her husband and her 9-year-old son, Olayinka Opeyemi Farouk.
…Vigilance group pledges support in combating crime
In the wake of the bloody banks robbery incident in Offa, the Kwara State Commandant of Vigilante Group of Nigeria (VGN), Alhaji Abdulraheem Jimoh who doubles as the Serikin Danji of Ilorin Emirate has pledged the support of its officers to join forces with other security agents in fighting crime in the state.
Jimoh stated this yesterday at the Gaa Saka, Ita Nmo area headquarters of VGN in Ilorin during an exclusive interview with National Pilot.
He however urged the police and other security agents to carry VGN officers along anytime there are gatherings on security.
He said, “we are closer to the society. People relate with us and we do interact with them. Anytime they notice any kind of suspicious movement, they inform us and we act based on the tip off.”
He however express sadness over the arms mop up directive from the Inspector General of Police, Abuabakar Idris, describing it as an act that could make his officers and the society susceptible to attack.
Also speaking, the former Divisional Police Officer of “D” Division Adewole area of Ilorin, Saka Ibrahim who also doubled as the state Chairman of VGN sought recognition from both the state and federal government.
He also advocated that the group should be funded by the government like other security agents.
According to him, the group needs support in the area of logistics such as patrol vehicles, motorcycles, and communication gadgets to enhance their operation.
On the Offa robbery incident, Ibrahim said, “the armed robbers had been in town for more than one week and they did surveillance before operation.”
Speaking further he said “If not of the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, there will be nothing like Vigilante Group of Nigeria.
“We also thank in advance, Speaker of KWHA Ali Ahmad for the vehicle he promised and we urge him to fulfil the pledge. Also the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu Gambari and SEAP Executive Director, Deacon Olatunde Oladokun for their financial support.