Offa robbery: Over thirty people were reported killed on Thursday when a gang of armed men attacked banks and a police station in Owode Market Area in Offa Local Government Area in Kwara state.
The police howere said fifteen people were killed in the Offa robbery attack, according to AFP Friday.
“They attacked the police station and at the same time attacked two banks,” said Kwara state police spokesman Ajayi Okasanmi, adding that nine police and six civilians died in the violence.
The gang invaded a busy commercial area where several banks and the police station are located in broad daylight around 4:50 pm (1550 GMT), said Okasanmi.
“We are going all-out to ensure we arrest them,” he said, adding that the haul from the robbery was not immediately known.
The robbers charged into the banks and shot people on the spot before making off with bags of cash on stolen motorbikes, said a witness.
“They split into two groups. One group attacked the divisional police station where they opened indiscriminate fire,” said a resident who witnessed the attack, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“The other group attacked the two banks, shooting people they met inside, many of them in the head,” he said.
“They carried away money in sacks from the banks and fled on motorcycles they seized from okada (motorcycle taxis) riders.”
– ‘Despicable act’ –
Senate President Bukola Saraki, one of Nigeria’s highest-ranking politicians, commiserated with the victims of the “savage attack” in Offa.
In a statement released Friday, Saraki said the robbery “is a despicable act committed by cruel individuals.”
Gang attacks are a persistent problem for Nigeria, adding to security woes in a country already grappling with the Boko Haram Islamist insurgency.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has had to deploy military throughout Nigeria, West Africa’s largest economy, to quell violence in the absence of a strong police force and rigorous legal system.
On Wednesday, Buhari reiterated his support for $1 billion in emergency funding for weapons purchases to fight security threats across the nation, though critics warn that similar defense spending in the past has been tainted by corruption.
Police and military in the country were subject to intense scrutiny in February after it emerged that they were unable to repel Boko Haram fighters who stormed the town of Dapchi and abducted 111 schoolgirls.
Since then, 105 of the schoolgirls have been returned following negotiations with the Nigerian government, though six others — including one Christian who refused to denounce her faith — are still unaccounted for. The five others are believed to have died in the initial stages of the kidnapping.
Military and police are overstretched in Nigeria, which, along with fighting Boko Haram jihadists in the north, is battling militants and pirates in the oil-rich south, a simmering separatist movement in the east and a bloody battle between herdsmen and farmers spanning the vast central region.
Fighting fires on so many fronts takes an economic toll. This week Nigeria’s central bank governor Godwin Emefiele said the “herdsmen-related violence” poses a key risk to the country’s economic growth.
Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara has promised to pay the medical bills of victims of Thursday’s Offa robbery attack.
Ahmed made the promise when he visited the victims at the General Hospital in Ilorin on Friday.
The governor had earlier ordered that the victims be relocated to Ilorin from Offa for adequate treatment.
He also directed that medical experts be mobilised from other states to Ilorin so as to give the victims prompt treatment and support.
Ahmed, who went round the wards to meet with the victims, described the incident as unfortunate.
He commiserated with families who lost loved ones and also prayed to God to grant the injured victims quick recovery.
“We will take care of all their hospital bills, we must begin to watch each other’s back.
“The job of policing is everybody’s job, when we see strange people in our communities, we must learn to report to appropriate security agencies.
“Activities like this took sometimes in planning and execution,” Ahmed said.
The governor also stressed the need for community policing, maintaining that the police would work efficiently if they have information.
He reiterated his government’s support to strengthen the security agencies in the state, especially in the area of logistics.
Ahmed, however, noted that there was huge problem of financing in the country, but pledged that his government would work around it because the situation was now becoming precarious.
He maintained that his government would not allow the lives of the citizens to be on the line again.