Posted by The PUNCH on
Robbers attack bullion van, kill three policemen
John Ameh, Anambra
Three policemen and two officials of a leading commercial bank in the country have been killed by suspected armed robbers in Onitsha, the commercial city of Anambra State.
A fourth policeman was also alleged to have been abducted by the bandits in what turned out to be a well- executed assault on the bank’s bullion van and two other escort vehicles.
An undisclosed huge sum of money was successfully carted away by the bandits who ambushed the vehicles along the popular Oguta Road in the city late on Monday evening.
The incident, which shocked not only the residents of Onitsha, but embarrassed the State Police Command, had shattered the record of a relatively low rate of violent crime in the city the police had kept in the last couple of months.
Eyewitnesses told our correspondent that the bandits, who operated on motor cycles, crossed over into Onitsha through the Niger Bridge from Asaba, Delta State and laid in wait for the vehicles, said to be conveying cash to one of the bank’s branches in Onitsha.
On sighting the bullion van, which slowed down at a bad portion of the road, the suspects were said to have sprung onto the road, took control of the van and shot directly at the accompanying escort vehicles.
Three of the four policemen escorting the van and two staff of the bank were killed on the spot, while the fourth policeman was abducted by the bandits.
With no further resistance, the suspects reportedly took their time to destroy the door of the bullion van, took possession of the cash boxes and drove out of the scene with the abducted policeman in one of the snatched vehicles of the bank.
They later abandoned the vehicle and empty cash boxes on the outskirts of Onitsha, but the whereabouts of the policeman was unknown as at press time.
The Commissioner of Police in charge of the state command, Mr. Felix Ogbaudu, who confirmed the attack to newsmen on Tuesday, expressed regrets that in spite of the spirited efforts of the command to rid the state of crime, suspected bandits were unrelenting in their courage.
"In spite of all that we have been doing, I lost three of my men on Monday. It is sad and this is the kind of hazard the police are facing, but they won’t go scot-free ", a visibly worried Ogbaudu, said.
He also confirmed that the vehicle seized by the bandits during the operation had been recovered but gave no word on the policeman who was alleged to have been abducted by the robbers.
Ogbaudu promised that investigation into the matter would be given proper attention, adding that the suspects would never get away with the crime.