By SIMON EBEGBULEM
THE Polytechnic town of Auchi, in Etsako West Local Government Council of Edo State has not been the same since last Monday when dare-devil robbers invaded the town and attacked four banks.
About 15 persons, including three soldiers, were killed in the operation that lasted for about three hours. It was like a war scene as the armed robbers who stormed the town with sophisticated weapons rained bullets ceaselessly.
An eyewitness, Shaka Hamza said he started hearing explosion at about 6:24pm and this lasted till after 9pm. Shaka said he saw three dead bodies along Jattu road and a military personnel near Agip filling station.
He said: “I was about to go to the mosque when the shooting started. They attacked the command quarters at Warrake.
They also attacked soldiers’ base at Igbirra camp. When we started hearing gun shots, I thought maybe soldiers were engaging criminals, but suddenly we saw some armed men, over 20 of them shouting and shooting. They were ordering every body to enter their houses. They were fully armed, so we started making calls in our houses.
“In fact, it was there that we learnt that they have bombed the Area Command police station. It was like a war situation but it is a pity that the police could not do anything. But the truth is that I don’t think the police would have faced those people because they were fully prepared.
May be they had hint that money was deposited some where and that came for it”.
A woman, Iyabo Omon, whose shop is close to the police station said she thought it was an accident when the first explosion occurred. She said she took her children to safety when she heard repeated shooting and explosion.
She said: “I saw many of them carrying guns. I ran under the bed and one came to bang on my door. Suddenly they shot a man. They took the chickens and other items I displayed for sale.
It was later we discovered that the man they shot was a driver with Bob Izua Motors. I packed all the things in my shop. But we thank God we are still alive because we actually thought it was over for all of us.
“This shows that we have no protection in this country, when robbers like this can conveniently come to a town like Auchi and take over the place. It is shocking and I pray we don’t experience this kind of thing again in our life. There are several people who are hypertensive; they were rushed to the hospital due to the sound of gun and the bombs. We are yet to count the number of deaths; it is later that we will know because so many people were affected”.