Police closing in on Agbara robbers after gang leader’s arrest
THE police are confident that they are closing in on the remaining murderous armed robbers that invaded Agbara Estate early on Thursday last week after their leader was arrested at the weekend in Sapele, Delta State. He was held at a get-together where he was spending money lavishly.
All of weekend, he was being interrogated. Police sources said last night that he had given them useful information. The manner of his spending attracted the police. In the encounter to arrest him, one policeman was shot dead, bringing to two the number of policemen who have died from the incident. Two others admitted at LUTH were said to be responding to treatment. One of the two was shot in the back during the robbery. Police said three of the robbers escaped with serious bullet wounds and they are asking hospitals to alert them in the event they show up seeking medical attention.
Police had laid siege in Lagos believing that the robbers who came using an engine boat had been marooned on the Atlantic Ocean. All through the afternoon on Thursday, a police helicopter hovered over the Estate and the ocean, in search of the robbers. The robbers had plied their boats through Ilase River, a tributary of Ogun River which runs its course on the eastern side of Agbara to empty into the Atlantic Ocean, aborting Agbara Estate, Ijanikin and Morogbo and stretching its measureless expanse to the historical town of Badagry.
The hustle and bustle which is a feature of Bank Road in Agbara Estate has not, as of the weekend, quite returned after the armed men turned the road into a theatre of war on Thursday. Police sources said many of the banks will open today, Monday. On Friday, practically all of them shut their gates to customers. Only their security men were at the gates turning back customers.
Police sources said normally when there is an incident of this nature, banks close for a week to allow for thorough investigation and see that the situation has returned to normal and confidence of the staff has been regained.
The robbers shattered the bustle when they broke into Zenith Bank, a leading new generation bank, carting away an unspecified sum of money. They came battle ready numbering about 45. Many of them were in the familiar Army camouflage uniform and police uniform with one in a light blue Air Force rating dress. A majority of the others wore assorted T-shirts and tied black scarves round their heads as well as black arm band. Some strapped chain bullets on their bodies. Those that approached the bank disguised as customers, hiding their weapons. And all of a sudden, without warning, a cacophony of bullets rang out in bursts of deafening gunfire. A hail of bullets flew freely in all directions, what many eyewitnesses palpably shaken, described as an attack better experienced than described. All fled predictably in different directions heading for nowhere in particular, for safety.
Workers in offices instinctively dived for cover, lying flat on the floor of their offices. A lady working in one of the companies said, “It was a war; I have never seen a thing like this. They turned this part of the Estate into a war zone.” She went on, “When I say war, it was war!”
A mobile policeman on duty at the bank was shot dead. Two other regular policemen were also shot, one in the back and injured critically.
Police sources said they were responding well to treatment. Several other people, customers and passersby were shot deliberately or hit by stray bullets. One of these was an expectant mother shot in the leg. Bullet holes dotted walls of company buildings because the robbers shot aimlessly even during their confident, leisurely exit from the Estate, putting four cars carrying their loot in the middle of their procession, daring whoever wished to face them. They shot at the tyre of a police armoured personnel carrier stationed to ward off any such security challenge in the Estate and its environs which police said they used to battle them.
The robbers used what many believed to be dynamite to tear down the electronically powered glass entrance door and the wall of the Zenith Bank. The door of Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) which the armed men also attempted proved explosive-resistant and indestructible. They left GTB, another leading new generation bank, but not without shattering its glass door, to concentrate on Zenith Bank, obviously their target in the first place.
On Friday, although practically all the banks were closed, the PHCN offices opened and several cars were parked in front of the building. The commercial motorcycle and tricycle operators were also back at their beat.
The siege was the first ever in the 37 years of the high brow Estate inhabited mostly by company executives and university lecturers. It is normally a serene leafy environment, a haven, with lawns to sober the minds and refresh tired bones after the day’s hardwork. It is also renowned for giant trees which birds naturally make their undisturbed habitation. The most notable elite school on the Estate is Corona which attracts students from several parts of the country.