Dare-devil robbers last week rained terror on Ilara-Mokin community in Ondo State where they attacked an old generation bank. ADEWALE MOMOH writes on how 15 armed robbers swooped on the community, leaving an ace broadcast journalist, a policeman and a motorcyclist dead after their ‘operation’
July 15, 2021, a Thursday will continue to resonate across the minds of residents of Ilara-Mokin in Ifedore Local Government Area of Ondo State following the armed robbery attack that rocked the community. It was a day unpleasant guests came calling on the peaceful community as a reign of terror pervaded the community as a result of the ruthlessness of dare-devil armed robbers who struck an old generation bank in the community. During the operation, a popular broadcast journalist and the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of Elizade University, Ilara- Mokin, Olubunmi Afuye, a policeman and an Okada rider were killed. A visit to the community by New Telegraph after the attack revealed that the residents were still in a state of shock and disbelief over what they described as harrowing experience over the daring moves of the bandits.
For residents of the community, the robbers, numbering about 15, took over the community in commando-style operation as they announced their arrival with gunshots and detonation of explosives before attacking the bank. Recounting how the robbers operated unhindered, some of the residents said the 15 robbers arrived at the bank on foot after placing themselves at strategic locations around the vicinity. For about 20 minutes, the gunmen were said to have held the community by the jugular shortly after attacking some policemen stationed at the bank. The policemen were sitting under a tree opposite the bank at the time.
The policemen were said to have taken to their heels but one of them was not lucky as he ran into a nearby building for safety, unfortunately the heartless robbers noticed and threw dynamite into the building, blowing him to pieces. The bank had suffered a similar fate in 2008 in which a policeman was also killed.
It was believed that the bank had earlier received some cash but the robbers became infuriated upon discovering only N2 million in the bank’s vault. One of the residents, Thomas Ijogo, who lived opposite the bank, said he had thought herdsmen were the ones firing the shots in the community due to the magnitude of the gunshots. Ijogo stated that he wanted to hide inside the house but remembered the house was built by an Army General and he reasoned that the General was the target. He narrated: “After they left, we discovered that they were robbers.
The robbers targeted the place policemen used to sit under a tree. They attacked the two policemen. “They blocked the both sides of the road. One of the policemen ran into this house, the other one ran into the bush. They threw dynamite into the house and it shattered the policeman. “The bank workers said they cooperated with the robbers and they took whatever they want to take. In 2008, I was a security man in the bank. This place was also a target by robbers who attacked then. We blame the police for positioning themselves in that particular place. “The absence of the bank will affect business transaction in the community as we will now go to the city to do banking transactions.”
ANGRY YOUTHS VANDALIZE POLICE STATION OVER ZERO RESPONCE
Youths of the community were said to have attempted to block the road but the sporadic gunshots from the robbers made them flee and gave the robbers the leeway to escape through the old route to Akure. After the robbers had escaped, youths of the community were said to have been angered by the development and they mobilised ready to set the police station in the area ablaze. They were, however, said to have been prevailed upon by elders in the community but they had already vandalised the police station for not responding to distress calls upon the arrival of the gunmen According to a leader in the community, Fapounda Fisayo: “It was not the police that killed the Okada man but the youths who wanted to burn the police station. “They forgot most things here were done by the community and other individuals. The youths should know that burning the police station is not the solution.”
ROBBERS KILL POPULAR JOURNALIST
Other witnesses said one of those killed during the attack, Afuye was shot by the robbers after he unknowingly drove into their operation. “We waved at him to stop but he didn’t listen. He had an earpiece on his ears and had his cars windows were rolled up. He drove into the robbers and they shot him in the head,” New Telegraph was told. Afuye, popularly known as ‘Bumbam’, who had newly took up appointment at Elizade University, Ilara-Mokin as the institution’s PRO, after resigning from the state-owned television and radio stations (Orange FM and OSRC), was said to have ran into the robbers while he was on his way from the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) where he had gone to officiate an event.
POLICE REACT, WARN YOUTHS.
Speaking on the development, the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Tee-Leo Ikoro, said police operatives the robbers a chase but the bandits were able to manoeuvre and escape through the forest due to the robbers’ better knowledge of the terrain. While assuring that the robbers would be arrested, Ikoro disclosed that the robbers used sophisticated weapons and carefully planned the operation. The Ondo Police spokesman, however, warned youths against attacking police facilities in case of future occurrence.
GRUESOME KILLING OF AFUYE, DASTARDLY ACT, BIG LOSS TO JOURNALISM WORLD – AKEREDOLU
Meanwhile, Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu has described the gruesome murder of Afuye as a “dastardly act”, adding that his death would cost the journalism profession a huge loss. In a statement by the governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Richard Olatunde, he stated that Afuye was a bright, brilliant and upcoming star. While condoling with the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and the deceased family over the incident, Akeredolu directed that Afuye’s killers must be arrested and brought to book. Olatunde said: “He was particularly close to us; we all admired his candour and carriage, especially his brilliant delivery at functions he compered that we had reasons to grace. His demise is not just painful. It is very pathetic and unbearable. “A specific directive has been given by the Governor that the perpetrators of this heinous crime are apprehended and brought to book in the shortest possible time.”
NUJ DECLARES SEVEN DAYS MOURNING
Following Afuye’s murder by the bank robbers, the leadership of the NUJ, Ondo State chapter, promptly declared seven days of mourning in honour of the deceased. Describing his killing as callous, the union said, it was wicked and unforgivable act on the part of the robbers for cutting short the life of the journalist in his prime. While describing the sudden demise of Afuye as a case of ‘sunset at noon’ in the state’s journalism fraternity, the NUJ in a statement, signed by the council’s Chairman, Adetona Aderoboye and Secretary, Leke Adegbite, they described the deceased journalist as a bright, cerebral and versatile colleague.