By Dayo Johnson, Akure
LIKE bees, dare-devil armed robbers, numbering about 20, invaded a bank in lfon, the headquarters of Ose local government area of Ondo State, carting away millions of naira and killing three policemen on guard duty.
The bandits, according to residents, arrived around 3pm after the bank had closed to customers for the day.
Brandishing sophisticated weapons and dynamite, they bombed the electronic entrance door and entered the banking hall.
But before gaining access, the robbers had shot dead the three policemen.
The victims were identified as Jimoh Adeniyi, Alex Sampson and Oluwole Daramola.
Ondo State Police Command spokesperson, Femi Joseph, confirmed that the cops lost their lives because “they were overpowered by the robbers in gun battle”.
Some residents, who spoke to Sunday Vanguard, said the bandits, on arrival at the bank premises, surrounded the building and, in commando style, fired gunshots into the air to scare away bystanders.
And before the three policemen on guard duty knew what was happening, they had been gunned down.
It was learnt that the attackers came in three buses and parked metres away from the bank entrance.
According to the eye witnesses, the robbers, who appeared to have been conversant with the bank’s security arrangement, went straight to silence the policemen before heading for the banking hall.
One of the eye witnesses narrated, “They came in three buses and they were up to 20 in number, they were heavily armed.
“When they got to the entrance, they could not enter easily because the bank had stopped attending to customers; so they had to blow the door up with dynamite.
“For several minutes, there was shooting everywhere; the three policemen that engaged them were killed but none of the robbers was killed.”
Also, it was learnt that a stray bullet from the robbers killed a yet to be identified man at a clinic located beside the bank.
Another eye witness said it was when more policemen were deployed in the scene and engaged the robbers that the bandits fled.
The two witnesses said the incident halted social and commercial activities for almost an hour in the town.
Police spokesman Joseph said the state command deployed more men at the scene while another team, led by the state Commissioner of Police, Gbenga Adeyanju, went to Ifon from Akure, the state capital, immediately after receiving distress call.
He said, “It is unfortunate that we lost two of our men in the incident, but we are on the trail of the robbers. They went to the bank with sophisticated weapon and, in spite of that, our men engaged them.
“The Commissioner of Police himself led a team from Akure to the scene; it was when they (robbers) knew that we were closing in on them that they ran away with bullets wounds. We shall get them soonest because our men are still on their trail”.
Meanwhile, the state Police Commissioner, Adeyanju, has paid a condolence visit to the families of the deceased cops, promising that the dependants they left behind would be catered for.
The police boss was quoted as saying, “Let me assure you that the police will do everything in their capacity to take good care of the families of the deceased policemen”.
Nemesis was said to have caught up with one of the bandits few days after the robbery as he was arrested by the police in neighbouring Edo State.
The suspect was said to have gone to treat the wound he sustained on his leg following the gun duel with policemen during the bank robbery.
“We have been able to arrest one of the persons suspected to be among those who perpetrated the bank robbery. He was arrested at a village in Edo State where he had gone to treat the wound on his leg which he sustained through a gun duel with our officers”, spokesperson Joseph said.
“He is now in our custody and is helping detectives on how others can be arrested through investigation. The name of the suspect is being protected to avoid disclosing the tactic in the on-going investigation”.
Joseph said detectives were on the trail of other suspects.
In a related development, some residents of lfon disagreed with the police on the arrest of the suspect.
The residents said there was no shootout between the robbers and the police in the town to warrant injury to any of the bandits.
In separate interviews, they said the police report of the robbery in the media was not what actually happened.
According to them, there was no gun battle between the robbers and policemen.
One of the residents said, “The police report in the media was not correct. There was no gun battle between them and the robbers. The three policemen who died in the incident were those on guard duty at the bank and were in mufti.
“There were no other policemen around when the robbery was going on and a team of policemen later came minutes after the robbers had left. There were no shootouts with the police anywhere in Ifon on that day. How the police arrested one of the robbers with bullet injuries, we don’t know”. But police spokesperson Joseph warned the residents against compromising the investigation into the incident.
He said the police had authoritatively narrated what happened on the fateful day.
“We implore anybody with different information on the incident to come out and tell us. That will even help our investigation. We have told the world exactly what happened on that day. People should allow us to do our job”, the spokesperson added.