How gunmen raided five banks in Edo, abandoned N34.5m cash | Dailytrust

How gunmen raided five banks in Edo, abandoned N34.5m cash

Some of the hoodlums caught on camera
Some of the hoodlums caught on camera

Residents of Uromi community, the administrative headquarters of Esan North East Local Government Area of Edo State, woke up to a nightmare on Thursday as a gang of hoodlums stormed the town, attacked and carted away huge sums of money from five banks.  

The robbery operation led to the death of eight persons including two police officers while 12 others were injured and receiving treatment.  

The banks raided by the armed robbers are: First Bank, Union Bank, Unity Bank, United Bank for Africa and Zenith Bank.   

The banks, it was gathered, were robbed simultaneously in a very coordinated manner while residents scampered for safety following sporadic shooting.  

It was gathered that the hoodlums numbering more than 20 came in five vehicles and three motor bikes and were heavily armed with weapons, including dynamites with which they blew up entrances of the affected banks.  

The hoodlums, before the bank robbery operation, attacked the Uromi Police Station, killing a female police officer.  

Another policeman was killed at Zenith Bank during the operation.  

It was learnt that a vigilante group attempted to confront them but later retreated as the robbers had superior weapons.  

It was also learnt that a woman selling roast plantain and a woman passerby were among those killed during the sporadic shooting by the hoodlums.  

The Uromi bank robbery was similar to the ones that occurred in 2015 and 2018 in Igarra, the headquarters of Akoko Edo Local Government Area, and Auchi in Etsako West Local Government Area respectively, in which they successfully carted away an undisclosed sum of money from the banks’ vaults.   

In the Auchi and Igarra robberies, police stations in the areas were first attacked before the hoodlums proceeded to the banks, resulting in the deaths of police officers and civilians.  

Bags of money recovered

But barely 24 hours after the robbery incident, rumour filtered into the town that the armed robbers had abandoned the five vehicles and three motorcycles used for the operation in a bush in Ubiaja in Esan South East Local Government Area of the state.  

The robbers, it was gathered, abandoned the items, while escaping through the Ubiaja axis.  

It was also gathered that youths of Ubiaja, who heard of the operation, barricaded the road, which is the only exit the hoodlums could easily escape through.  

The robbers were said to have left N34.5 million in the boots of the abandoned vehicles; which was recovered by the police.  

Speaking with journalists on the abandoned items, the Edo State Police Command’s spokesman, Bello Kongtons, confirmed the recovery.  

He said the recovery was done in collaboration with the local vigilantes.  

“The police and vigilantes on receiving the information that some vehicles suspected to have been used by armed robbers in Uromi bank robbery operations were seen hidden in Oruen Quaters bush of Ubiaja in Esan South East Local Government of the State mobilised to the scene.  

“The police recovered two small bags containing women items, one Union Bank ATM card and N34.5 million cash.  

“The Commissioner of Police, CP Philip Aliyu Ogbadu, while commiserating with the families of those who lost their lives in the incident promised to apprehend the perpetrators and bring them to justice,” Kongtons said.  

As the police continue with their investigation, residents of the area said the echoes from the sporadic gunshots will continue to linger on in their memory.  

They said they will continue to live in fear following the ugly episode.  

Speaking on the development, a resident, Okosun Akhere, described the robbery operation as horrible. “The robbers began their operations at about 5pm, and held the town hostage for over one hour,” he said.  

He explained that the robbery incident created panic and confusion in the area, as the hoodlums operated unchallenged throughout the period the operation lasted.  

Another eyewitness, Mrs Eunice Ebosele, who sells fruits close to the Unity Bank in Uromi, said on sighting the robbers, she abandoned her wares and money, and ran for safety.  

She said she returned in the night long after the robbers had left, to find her wares and money intact. She thanked God for sparing her life.  

Another resident, who only gave his name as John, said the incident created panic among the people.  

He said the bank robbery was unprecedented, as no robbery operation of such magnitude has ever happened in the area.  

He said the gunmen operated unchallenged throughout the period of the operation.  

“I have not witnessed this kind of armed robbery before. I have only been reading this on the news and watching this on social media. I don’t pray to witness such an incident again.”  

He said the sound of guns that rented the air while the operation lasted is enough to drive anybody crazy, as it was just like in an American action film.  

Another resident, Odion Moses, said the hoodlums turned the town to a theatre of war during the operation, as they shot sporadically for over two hours.  

“After the operation, the robbers tried to escape through the Ubiaja exit where a bus was allegedly waiting for them but the youths of the area had already blocked the road.  

“So, when they met the barricade, they started shooting sporadically, abandoned their vehicles and took some bags of money with them. They started firing in all directions as they made their way to the bus and escaped,” he said.    

Meanwhile, the Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, has vowed to arrest the perpetrators and bring them to justice.  

He also promised to increase security surveillance in Uromi, the headquarters of Esan North East Local Government of the state, to guarantee safety of lives and property  

Obaseki, represented by his deputy, Philip Shaibu, said this at the weekend during an on-the-spot assessment of the affected banks in conjunction with security chiefs.  

“You should go about your normal businesses; the state government has beefed up security and surveillance to ensure safety of lives and property. I assure you the perpetrators would be arrested and brought to book.  

“This attack is a well organised crime. We are here on behalf of the governor to find out what happened and know the extent of the damage. We are here on a fact-finding mission and have interacted with bank officials, eye witnesses, traders and people living in the area and seen the level of destruction and damage done.  

“We reassure our people of improved security in the area and guarantee their safety. In the next week, people of this area will see government action on the matter,” he said.   

The governor who also visited the palace of the Ojuromi of Uromi, HRH Anslem Odaloighe Eidenojie II, reiterated that the state government has beefed up security in the area.  

On his part, HRH Anslem Odaloighe Eidenojie II lamented that the robbers took control of the area and killed his subjects.  

“The situation was like a war zone and it lasted for over two hours,” he said.

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