Posted by By NWABUEZE OKONKWO Onitsha, MURPHY GANAGANA, Abuja on
With smoking guns, dare-devil armed robbers on Tuesday seized the already troubled commercial city of Onitsha by the throat....
With smoking guns, dare-devil armed robbers on Tuesday seized the already troubled commercial city of Onitsha by the throat, going on a shooting spree and carting away millions of Naira as they raided markets in broad daylight.
The robbers’ free operation, which lasted hours, left the joint police military patrol team drafted to secure the city in the aftermath of crisis in the metropolis scandalized.
In Abuja, the nation’s capital, another group of robbers invaded a bank, but the police foiled the operation.
The six-man gang in Onitsha, which, according to eyewitnesses, wore military uniforms, defied the presence of security outfit as they took the city hostage. They concentrated on markets and allegedly robbed about 60 stalls at both Onitsha and Nkpor New Tyre Market near Onitsha, making away with traders’ money
The gang reportedly came in two vehicles, brand new Peugeot 406 saloon car painted in military colour and Volkswagen mini-jeep, shooting sporadically. They first stormed the glass-aluminum market on Okosi/Oguta Road junction where they allegedly robbed over 20 stalls, carting away millions of Naira.
No casualty was, however, recorded in that incident as the robbers were heard shouting: "Where are the soldiers, are they only for MASSOB and NARTO? Let them come near us and have their heads blasted." But traders, who ran for dear lives, sustained minor injuries.
On heading to Nkpor, the bandits had a stop-over at Awka road where they released some volleys of shots into the air sending residents scampering for safety. The robbers gave a bank bullion van, believed to be carrying huge sum of money a hot chase.
In the markets they attacked, traders were made to lie face down during the operation that lasted for about 40 minutes.
A military/police patrol team that arrived the scene later, however, gave the robbers a futile chase.
Confirming the incident, the commander of the patrol, Lt. Col John Enenche, said they were in the army barracks when they heard gun shots, adding that he quickly dispatched a team of soldiers who stormed the market and were told the robbers had left.
"We trailed them, but could not get them as information did not get to us on time," Enenche said.
The chairman of the Police Community Relations Committee, PCRC, Central Police Station, Victor Agubuisi, attributed the robbery to quest to get rich quick by the youths. He revealed that the jail break and disbandment of the road decongestion outfit, National Union of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) gave rise to crime and institution of private armies.
Stressing the need for information to be given to the police, Agubuisi pointed out that the robbers live with the people and must be flushed out.
The chairman of M/L lines of the new tyre market, Chief Ignatius Udoh, decried the incident and called on the authorities to come to their rescue.
The Abuja robbers, six in number, were said to have gone into the banking hall, disguised as customers. The bandits, who came in a Landrover and Volkwagen jeeps, had barricaded the gate and were commencing operation when the policeman guarding the bank, who was outside then, noticed their strange movements. He was said to have shot severally into the air, upon which the robbers fled.
A team of policemen, led by the Divisional Police Officer, Wuse Police Station, Superintendent Aliyu Doma, alerted by distress calls, soon arrived the scene. One suspect was arrested