BY DEMOLA AKINYEMI, Ilorin
Offa, Kwara State is not new to bank robbery. On December 23, 2013, some armed robbers, in a commando style, attacked a bank in the town and killed two members of staff, about five police officers and some residents.
In a similar fashion, armed robbers, numbering over 30, in a coordinated attack, penultimate Thursday, stormed Offa.
Over N50million was said to have been carted away from five banks by the robbers.
On arrival in the town, the hoodlums, according to reports, divided themselves into groups and simultaneously attacked the banks and nearby police station, causing the banks’ customers and residents to run helter-skelter.
Police confirmed 17 people, including nine policemen, dead although early reports put casualty figure around 30.
Sympathisers from far and near have been visiting Offa to commiserate with the people.
‘We will get them’
Meanwhile, the federal government has vowed to arrest the fleeing robbers while Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed announced N5million offer for information that could lead to the arrest of the bandits.
The senator representing Kwara South, Alhaji Rafiu Ibrahim, described the incident as very unfortunate and assured the residents of his resolve to provide logistics that would aid security in Offa.
The state police commissioner, Mr Lawan Ado, on Saturday, said seven suspects had been arrested in connection with the robbery.
“ Seven suspects have been arrested, one at Igosun Road and six others at different locations in Offa, they are helping us in our investigation”, Ado told journalists.
“17 persons, comprising of nine policemen/women and eight residents, were killed within the police station and the street/banks.
“Five banks, Union, Eco, Gtb, First, Zenith, and one microfinance bank were attacked.
“As callous and as unfortunate as the attack was, casualty figure was 17 and not 30 as erroneously reported by some media platforms”.
He added, “The Inspector General of Police has ordered full investigation and has directed his Intelligence Response Team and others to assist in getting all the hoodlums arrested”
Senate President Bukola Saraki, who paid a condolence visit to Offa, also on Saturday, called for the overhaul of the nation’s infrastructure in order to solve the problem of insecurity in
The federal government also registered its condolence as Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, visited.
Mohammed visited Governor Ahmed, Offa, the state police commissioner, Ado, and victims receiving treatment at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, General Hospital, Ilorin and General Hospital, Offa.
Siblings as survivors
Speaking with Sunday Vanguard at the General Hospital, Ilorin, one of the survivors, Orelope Orilonise, narrated how a bullet from the robbers hit his brother, Salawu, right in his presence.
He said he and his sibling were lucky to be alive.
According to him, they were on an outing and passing through Owode area of Offa when the robbers attacked by firing indiscriminately and pandemonium ensued, forcing passersby to run for their lives.
“We too ran and it was in the process that a bullet hit my brother and he fell. When I saw him in the pool of his own blood, I burst into tears because I thought he was dead. But thank God he is alive though with serious injuries”.
He however expressed fear of another attack since there had been similar attacks in Offa in the past.
“This is the fourth time such a robbery incident will happen in Offa which really shows that we are not secure. What shocked many was that the robbery incident was on for over two hours without intervention from security forces”.
Bullet pierces groin
Another victim, Waidi Olorunlambe, 48, and a taxi driver, said he was discharging a passenger in front of First Bank at Sanni Abba area when a bullet hit him.
The bullet went through his right thigh and came out of his groin around his genital region, damaging this part of the body. But he is alive to tell the story.
Also injured in the attack is Wasiu Azeez, a staff in the palace of the Olofa of Offa, Oba Mufutau Gbadamosi.
On that fateful day, Wasiu had gone to GT Bank to withdraw money from the ATM.
After withdrawing money and he was about returning to the palace, he heard indiscriminate gun shots .
He was smart enough to quickly jump inside a nearby gutter and hid from flying bullets.
After some time, when the shootings had stopped, he thought the armed robbers had gone and came out of the gutter.
Just then the shootings resumed and he was badly hit in the neck.
Wasiu reportedly fell down and was writhing in the pool of his own blood before good Samaritans came to his rescue after the armed bandits had gone.
The palace aide is among the seven victims transferred by the state government from a private clinic in Offa to the General Hospital, Ilorin for proper medical attention.
His father, Alhaji Suraju Azeez, was also at the Zenith Bank to pick his wife, a staff of the bank home, when the robbers struck but they escaped unscathed.
He told Sunday Vanguard that he was at home relieving the experience to other members of the family when he received a call from the palace that his son had been shot during the robbery and was lying critically ill in hospital.
But James Oyeyemi, the father of Police Inspector Grace Makinde, who died after she was shot when the robbers stormed the Owode police station, was mourning when Sunday Vanguard spoke to him on phone after burying his daughter on Wednesday..
“I retired as police inspector in 1998 and I am almost 72 years. I am from Irepodun Local Government Area of Kwara State. It is unthinkable that I am burying my daughter with deep mourning when she should be the one burying me at old age with fanfare”, Oyeyemi said.
“I am so sad. It is not good to talk about the security situation in Nigeria because it is too bad. If there was adequate security, how will armed robbers come to a police station and attack policemen?”
At press time, one of the three Armoured Personnel Carriers requested for by the people of Offa to solve the security challenge in the town has arrived, while the entire place is now under serious security watch.