…attack police division, burn area commander’s car
- Policeman, detained suspects die in attack
A policeman and about 11 others were shot dead while several others sustained gunshot injuries yesterday when armed robbers invaded Igarra town, the headquarters of Akoko-Edo Local Government Area of Edo State. The robbers unleashed terror in the town as they attempted to rob two commercial banks – Unity Bank and Keystone Bank.
The evening attack sent hordes of residents scampering for safety. Also killed were two detained suspects at the Divisional Police Station, who were arrested yesterday morning for minor offences. One of the dead detained suspects was said to have been arrested by the police for incomplete vehicle particulars. At press time, the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Chidi Nwabuzor, said information about the attack was still sketchy, but promised to release more details later. It was learnt that the gunmen swooped on the police station, which is about 1.2 kilometres from the banks, apparently to demobilise the policemen.
They also burnt the official vehicle of the newlyposted Area Commander. Three other persons near the police station were also killed. At least four other persons were killed within the premises of the two banks. It was learnt that the robbers could not gain access to the vaults of the banks. An indigene of the community, Ofei Obende, said residents mobilised themselves and tried to resist the robbers, but they were overpowered by the invaders’ firepower. He said that policemen attached to the banks had engaged the bandits in exchange of gunfire, which was responsible for the death of the three unidentified bodies. Palace Secretary to the Otaru of Igarra, the paramount ruler of the community, Elder Folorunsho Dania, confirmed the incident yesterday on the phone. He said: “This is a serious case. Armed robbers have besieged Igarra. So many lives were lost; 10 bodies have been counted.
The police station was set ablaze, while the Area Commander’s new car was torched. Also, close to the police station, three people were killed. In the banks – Keystone Bank and Unity Bank – many persons were killed. In all, 10 lives have gone.
“They could not access the strong rooms of the banks. The people that were killed in the bank were outside the bank premises. Four persons were killed on the bank premises. A policeman was killed in the police station. Also, a stone throw from the police station, three persons were killed. Igarra is in a war scene; I am right at the police station.”
Six persons were killed in a similar raid in November 2015 when robbers invaded the community. Meanwhile, the Nigerian Navy has arrested four suspected members of a notorious cult group, Debam, said to have been robbing sea travellers of their valuables. Cdr. Ikenna Okoloagu, the Base Operation Officer, Nigerian Navy Ship Pathfinder (NNS), Port Harcourt, paraded the four suspected cultists to newsmen on yesterday. He said the suspects were arrested by a naval patrol team deployed to end killings and other criminal activities in its host community of Rumuolumeni. “This decision to heighten our security patrol follows the recent reported spate of killings in Rumuolumeni community and other forms of criminality in the state.
“The patrol team was tasked with the responsibility to ensure a safe, secure and peaceful atmosphere within the state. “So, in the course of the patrols, on August 8, about 0845 hours, the base patrol element arrested four suspected sea robbers and members of the dreaded Debam cult group,” he said. The officer said that the suspects were apprehended at their hideout at Iwofe waterfront with a locally made pistol and four live cartridges found in their possession. “Additionally, controlled and banned substances such as cannabis (Indian hemp) and tramadol were found in their possession.
“The suspects were immediately brought in for questioning and they later confessed to being members of the Debam cult group,” he said. Okoloagu said the hand over to the police was done in line with the Harmonised Standard Operating Procedures that spelled out roles for security agencies in combating illegalities in the oil and gas sector. One of the suspects, who admitted to the crime and pleaded for leniency, said that he was recruited into Debam cult by a friend when he was 19 years old. “I joined the group when I was in my Senior Secondary Three level at Community Secondary School, Rumuolumeni, in 2015.
“Immediately I joined Debam, I started saving money and later bought the gun (locally made pistol) for N15,000 for my protection. “The gun is mine, but I have not shot or killed anybody with it,” the 22-year-old said. Lekum claimed they worked for an unnamed chairman of the National Union of Iwofe who directed them to collect levies from those engaging in illegal oil bunkering in the area. Also, a Daura Road Chief Magistrates’ Court in Kaduna, Kaduna State, on Thursday ordered the remand of three men for alleged armed robbery.
The defendants – Rabiu Abdullahi, Ibrahim Dahiru and Anas Mohammed – are standing trial on a twocount charge of criminal conspiracy and armed robbery. The prosecutor, Insp. Akinga Akila, had told the court that the matter was transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) for further investigation.
Akila said that on July 6, at 2p.m., the defendants robbed some passengers of their property on Ishaku Road, Ungwan Rimi in Kaduna, when they boarded a tricycle. The prosecutor said that the passengers were robbed of their phones and wallets, containing a school’s identity card and voter’s card, before the defendants were caught. He said that the defendants confessed to committing the crime during police investigation, adding that the offences contravened Sections 59 and 283 of the Penal Code. Magistrate Abdulkadir Musa declined to take the plea of the defendants because the court lacked the jurisdiction to hear the matter. Musa ordered the police to forward the case file to the State Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for legal advice and adjourned the case until September 5.
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