The police in Kwara State have arrested seven people in connection with last Thursday’s deadly armed robbery attack in Offa, Offa Local Government Area of the state.
This is as the command insists that only 17 people were killed during the attack.
The commissioner of police in the state, Lawan Ado, said this while briefing journalists in Ilorin, the state capital.
“Five banks and one micro finance house – Union Bank, EcoBank, Guaranty Trust Bank, First Bank, Zenith Bank and Ibolo Microfinance Bank – were attacked.
“Seven suspects have been arrested, one at Igosun Road and six others at different locations in Offa. They are helping us in our investigation. Seven vehicles abandoned by the armed robbers have also been recovered. However, the number of injured victims is yet to be ascertained as they are receiving treatment in different hospitals,’’ Ado said.
The commissioner of police also disclosed that some rifles were carted away by the robbers. He said the Inspector-General of Police had ordered a full investigation into the incident and directed his intelligence response team and others to assist in arresting the hoodlums.
Meanwhile, Kwara State Governor Abdulfattah Ahmed has offered N5million to anyone who provides a useful information that could lead to the arrest and prosecution of those involved in the robbery. He assured that every piece of information would be treated confidentially.
In a statement by his senior special assistant on media and communication, Dr. Muyideen Akorede, the governor called on anyone with useful information on the incident to contact the state police command on the following numbers: 0803 739 1280 and 0803 702 4320.
“While we mourn our dead with a heart full of sadness, and care for the injured by paying all their medical bills, we will do everything in our power to bring the attackers to justice and ensure that never again will any community or people in our state experience such tragedy,’’ Governor Ahmed said.
He said the police and other security agencies had begun a vigorous manhunt for the perpetrators of the crime and pledged to support them to apprehend and successfully prosecute those involved.
Meanwhile, Senator Rafiu Ibrahim, who represents the zone, has donated cash to some of the injured victims who are still receiving treatment at various hospitals in the state. He made the donation when he visited the hospitals in the company of the Olofa of Offa, Oba Mufutau Gbadamasi Esuwoye ll and other prominent Offa indigenes.
“We gave N250,000 and N100,000 respectively to victims. We did that to support them and augment whatever the state government promised to do to assist them,’’ Senator Ibrahim said.
There have been conflicting figures over the number of people killed during the robbery on Thursday last week.
According to police report, 17 people were killed – nine policemen and eight civilians. But other reports say 30 people lost their lives.
A witness who spoke to our correspondent said the bandits killed two other mobile policemen in Okuku, Osun State, who they believed were trailing them.
A medical doctor who spoke to our correspondent at the General Hospital, Offa but did not want his name mentioned, said 21 bodies were brought in around 6pm on Thursday. He added that nine patients who could not be handled at the hospital were referred to the Ilorin General Hospital.
Also, a doctor in one of the private hospitals in Offa, Taiwo Jaiyeola, said three victims of the attack were brought to the hospital dead while one person was still on admission.
A relative of one of the victims at the private hospital, Abdulrafiu Adekunle, said his relative, who was shot on the neck, was recuperating. He thanked God for saving his life.
Speaking to Daily Trust on Sunday, Sunday Soladoye, who donated blood in one of the hospitals, called on authorities to provide armoured personnel carriers in the community. He said this would help improve security, adding that robbery incidents in the community were increasing.
Our correspondent learnt that some people had buried their dead relatives while many were seen at the police station trying to get police reports before burying theirs.
The ancient town of Offa in Offa Local Government Area of Kwara State was on Thursday thrown into mourning as daredevil men of the underworld attacked banks, killed many people and carted away undisclosed sums of money.
Several armed bandits invaded the second largest town in Kwara State, blew up commercial banks with explosives and opened vaults.
According to eyewitnesses, the robbers, who numbered more than 20, came into the town in 7 to 8 vehicles and sacked the Offa divisional police headquarters, killing every living thing in the vicinity, including policemen, complainants, suspects in custody and animals. Thereafter, they proceeded to the premises of Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB), First Bank, Zenith Bank and others on the Olofa Road, where they carried out their activities unchallenged.
After the operation, which lasted for about an hour, the robbers fled Offa through Igosun community.
It was gathered that the bandits entered the town at about 4:45pm and operated till about 5:40pm, blocking roads from both Ilorin and Osogbo ends. They came in different vehicles and stationed themselves at strategic areas of the town. It was reported that they also snatched commercial motorcycles and cars to help in their operation and escape.
Our correspondent learnt that the robbers spent few minutes in Igosun High School before they finally left.
Among the policemen killed by the armed robbers who operated in commando style was a man identified as Pelemo, who was expected to retire in a few months, and a pregnant police woman.
An eyewitness said that corpses of six policemen were taken away in his presence while efforts were made to bring others out of the police station.
It was learnt that the General Hospital, Offa, where victims were taken to, was already overpopulated by those who sustained varying degrees of injury.
The police public relations officer in the state, Ajayi Okasanmi, who confirmed the incident said, “Nine of our men and seven civilians were killed while several other people were injured.
“We have also deployed more of our men to Offa while investigation is ongoing.’’
He said that details on the bank robbery would be made after a full investigation.
Narrating the incident, a resident of Offa, who preferred anonymous said, “The robbers are youths. From the faces I saw, they are girls and boys between 18 and 22 years of age,’’ he said.
It was learnt that one of the victims of the incident was a pregnant business woman identified as Omilola Korede, who had gone to lodge a complaint over a transaction in one of the affected banks. She reportedly went with her son.
Three other women who lost their lives in the attack have also been identified as Bunmi Mesan, Iya Muji and Mama the Big Club.
Offa has always been a target of attacks by the men of the underworld due to the heavy concentration of commercial banks. It would be recalled that all the banks in the town have been rendering skeletal services after similar experiences in 2013.
At first, banks in the town started operating between 9am and 12pm after the 2013 incident but later extended the time to 2pm after the community assured them that there won’t be reoccurrence.
In 2013, residents of Omu Aran community were also thrown into a similar situation after armed robbers attacked three banks, killing three persons and escaped with an unspecified amount of money.
Reacting to the incident, Governor Ahmed said, “I am very saddened by the tragic events in Offa today. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who died in the armed robbery attack. I am in constant touch with the security agencies in the state and have urged them to do all within their power to secure Offa and environs and bring the perpetrators to justice.
“I have also directed the department in charge of health services to rapidly treat those injured in the attack. My heartfelt condolences go to the people of Offa and the families of victims of today’s attack.”
Daily Trust on Sunday learnt Thursday’s attack in the ancient town was the third in five years.
Members of some vigilante groups told our correspondent that the robbers could operate confidently because their guns were mopped up and they could not face them with sticks.
Sons and daughters of Offa are consulting to find a lasting solution to bank robberies in the town.