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How 50 Armed Robbers Looted Diamond, Access Banks In Festac; Killed Mother & Child

First Bank Nigeria

A middle-aged nurse, Mrs. Jane Ndirika, and her 14-month-old baby, Mmesoma, were killed while a security guard, David Godwin, was injured by stray bullets, when a daredevil armed robbery gang stormed FESTAC Town in Lagos tuesday.

The duo were killed right in their sitting room at their residence along 4th Avenue, when the robbers sporadically released a hail of bullets to ward off the police, whilst their operation was ongoing.

The woman was said to have been clutching her baby to her chest when the bullets pierced the wall of the house and hit them both in the chest.

They bled to death before help could come and were later certified dead at the different hospitals they were later rushed to by concerned neighbours like Mr. John Irabor and his son.

The robbery, which started at about 8am, lasted till about 10am before the heavily armed gang successfully escaped through the canal at 7th Avenue unhindered, carting away their loot.

Numbering about 50, the robbers, who were dressed in military camouflage (army, police and air force), had stormed 4th Avenue by Mobil fuel station, 23 Road junction and successfully robbed Diamond and Access Banks simultaneously.

For the two hours, the gang held residents of FESTAC Town hostage as they robbed the two banks, having accessed the area through the same canal that links 4th and 7th Avenues.

THISDAY also exclusively gathered the police have not ruled out insider information, because the armed robbers who stormed Diamond Bank had specifically asked the bank manager for dollars paid in by some expatriates.
Also it was gathered that the Area E Command seized all 18 phones belonging to the bank staff on duty when the armed robbery took place.

The phones, which were handed over to the FESTAC Divisional Police Officer, CSP Monday Agbonika, are meant to aid the police in their investigation.

As at press time, the bank manager, a female, who was identified as Ms. Idongisiet, said she had not been invited to the station by the police either for questioning or to write a statement.

Speaking exclusively to THISDAY, an eyewitness, Amara Egbuna, who was in Diamond Bank at the time of the robbery, said the robbers had asked for cooperation from everyone inside the bank.

Recounting what transpired, she said: “Around 8am, I entered the bank to pay in money for my sister, Chisom. The next thing we heard were gunshots. They were shooting at the electronic door.

“When they couldn’t open it, they used dynamite to blast it open. They asked for the bank manager and they asked her for the dollars they had received from a customer. They also broke open the ATM and carried the money inside.

“They also went to the vault and carted away money. Meanwhile, we were all lying down there in fear. They also robbed bank customers. They were there and we didn’t see any policeman coming to our rescue.”
Another eyewitness, Mr. Lawrence Epuechi, said what alerted them was the sporadic and heavy gunshots released by the armed robbers.

He said: “I was about to go to work and was about to access the road that leads to 4th Avenue when the sound of gunshots stopped me and several others.

“We simply parked in one of the streets to wait. Meanwhile, some of us had called the police by then. What we thought would last a few minutes dragged on for two hours.

“FESTAC sounded like a war zone whilst the robbery lasted. It was later we learnt that they robbed both Diamond and Access Banks.”
Another resident, who did not want her name in print, said they were forced to brave the odds to creep downstairs, shut their gates and lock it up.

When contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Joseph Offor, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), confirmed the incident.

Reacting to claims that they didn’t respond to the incident till after the robbers had gone, the Area E Command said they tried their best, despite being at a disadvantage numerically.

Speaking to THISDAY, the Area E Commander, ACP Frank Mba, said they recovered about N27 million from the robbers, who were forced to drop the stolen money before they fled.

He also said they recovered about 240 rounds of AK47 live ammunition, adding that the money was deposited at another branch of Diamond Bank, also in FESTAC Town.

He recalled: “At about 8.25am, the command received information of sporadic shootings along 4th Avenue. A joint team of policemen from Area E Headquarters and FESTAC Division promptly responded to the incident.

“On arrival, the police engaged the robbers numbering over 40, in military camouflage and armed to the teeth in a fierce gun battle notwithstanding the inadequacy of the police in terms of numerical strength.

“The hot exchange of fire forced the armed robbers who were simultaneously robbing two banks to abandon the robbery operation. The police equally forced the robbers to abandon approximately N27 million.

“The police later recovered the money and transferred it under armed escort to another Diamond Bank branch at 2nd Avenue for safe keeping.

“Police action also forced the armed robbers to abandon 240 rounds of live ammunition before they retreated to the waterfront from where they fled using their speedboats.”

Source: Thisday

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