By Chidi Nkwopara, Owerri
Armed robbery ope-rations in Imo State took a very dangerous dimension last Thursday, as the dare devil hoodlums now operate with all manner of sophisticated weapons.
Saturday Vanguard investigations revealed that the hoodlums defied the heavy rain and shot their way into the highbrow Mbari Street, Owerri, attacking one of the commercial banks.
Unconfirmed sources said about four persons suspected to be bank workers were seriously injured in the attack and all the money in the Automated Teller Machine, ATM, was carted away.
A journalist (names withheld), within the vicinity of the robbery operation, told Saturday Vanguard that the armed robbers stormed the bank at about 7pm when the bank workers were still working.
“It was a brazen adventure by the robbers. From our hiding places, we heard the sound of all manner of sophisticated weapons, including what sounded like bombs”, the journalist recounted.
He further confirmed that a combined team of soldiers and policemen, who swiftly responded to the distress call, engaged the hoodlums in a serious gun duel that lasted for about 30 minutes.
Saturday Vanguard equally gathered that members of the gang that managed to flee from the superior fire power of the security personnel later abandoned their get-away vehicle at a point close to the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, Okigwe Road, Owerri.
Meanwhile, many people who spoke to Saturday Vanguard after the ugly incident lamented over what they termed “the growing level of insecurity in the state”.
They were irked that “the robbers could conveniently execute an operation within a shouting distance away from the Government House and State Police Headquarters, Owerri”.
The respondents were of the opinion that if this happen within Owerri municipality with ease, “it stands to reason that those living in the hinterlands must be passing through hell in the hands of hoodlums.
As at the time of going to press, the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Mr. Samuel Oodee, did not respond to the text message sent to him by Vanguard to give the police account of the event.
The Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Mr. Samuel Oodee, has confirmed that armed robbers invaded the UBA, destroyed the ATM and carted away an unspecified amount f cash.
The PPRO, who was reacting to Vanguard’s inquiry in a telephone chat, also said that about five persons were wounded in the operation and were immediately taken to the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri, for treatment.
Continuing, the PPRO said that a combine team of soldiers and policemen responded to the distress call and equally pursued the fleeing robbers and they quickly abandoned their Bayelsa State registered vehicle in a traffic hold up along Okigwe Road, Owerri.
“The police recovered the vehicle and when it was carefully searched, one dynamite was found in it. We have commenced serious investigation into the matter. No arrests have been made”, Oodee said.