By Emma Amaize
WARRIâ€”THREE persons are feared dead and five others injured in separate gun battles by bandits who have been fighting themselves on the streets of Effurun, near Warri in Delta State, in the past two days over the headship of an illegal organization of criminals in the area.
The concern of law-abiding citizens is that the bandits are disturbing the peace of the area and the police appear to have been taken off guard, as the bandits parade the streets in broad daylight with pump action guns and other weapons, scaring the daylight out of the people.
On Wednesday, those doing their business at Okubor Street, near the Airport Road Junction, had their hearts in the mouths, as the bandits, who took the battle to the homes of the opposing members, exchanged gunfire in a side street.
â€œOne of the boys was shot repeatedly by his colleagues and he died on the spot. In fact, they scattered his head with bullets,â€ an eyewitness said.
At Sokoh Estate Road in Warri yesterday morning, the bandits continued with their rampage and motorists, including this reporter, had to reverse their vehicles and scamper to safety.
A source told Vanguard:Â Â â€œThe bone of contention is that the tenure of the present leader of criminals among the various quarters in the area has expired, but he refused to step down for another person to take over.
â€œHe refused to step down for somebody else and instead asked for extension. Some of the bandits refused, saying he should respect himself and in order to stop them, he mobilized those loyal to him to fight those against him. The other group also mobilized and they are causing unrest in Effurun at the momentâ€, he said.
A trader, Mr. John Ogbodu, said â€œsince the boys started this their madness, we have not seen the police.Â Â They are walking about the streets with pump- action guns and other dangerous weapons and the highest we can do is to lock up our stores and run.
â€œThat is for those who are lucky, if you are not lucky, they will loot your store before you can even lock itâ€.