IGP, Mohammed Abubakar
Segun Awofadeji and James Sowole
About 10 people were feared killed, while eight others sustained various degrees of injury, following a gunfight between security operatives and gunmen suspected to be armed robbers in Azare town of Katagum Local Government Area of Bauchi State.
The gunfight, however, came as banks in Akure, the Ondo State capital, yesterday hurriedly closed their doors and gates against customers and other people, following rumours of likely armed robbery attacks.
THISDAY checks revealed that some youths and security operatives had engaged the gunmen, who attacked the seed market in Azare on Sunday.
A top security official, who spoke to THISDAY, said nine people were feared killed, while a source in the area alleged that 10 persons were shot dead.
According to the security source, four of the gunmen were killed, while three soldiers, one policeman and one civilian were killed in the attack.
The source disclosed that security operatives, after the gunfight recovered three AK 47 rifle, one pistol and one Improvised Explosive Device (IED) from the robbers.
He said the injured people were currently receiving treatment at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Azare.
When contacted, the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Mohammed Ladan, confirmed that four armed robbers were killed in the attack, while some security operatives suffered casualty.
In a similar development, the renowned thief ‘hunter’, Ali Kwara, has arrested five suspected armed robbers in Azare town on Sunday night, few hours after the attack in the area.
A source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the robbers were arrested in a drinking joint in Gadau motor park in Azare town.
But, a security source, who confirmed the arrest of the five suspects, said: “I can confirm to you that five suspects were arrested but I don’t think they are connected with the incident that happened last Sunday, these are new suspects.”
Narrating the incident to journalists yesterday in Bauchi, a community leader in Katagum, said the ‘thief’ hunter had allegedly sent his boys to Gadau motor park, where suspected armed robbers used to go and eat before eventually arresting the five suspects.
When contacted, Kwara who did not confirm or deny the arrest, said: “We have recorded success , when you are celebrating success you will only talk about it, not eye service, the suspects have stayed for a long time in Azare killing innocent people but they felt the consequences yesterday all the four were killed.”
He said they recovered three AK 47 riffles from the suspects, while also commending Azare communities for their effort in ensuring that the suspects were arrested.
Meanwhile, many customers, who came to transact business left various bank premises disappointedly, while doors were carefully opened for those who were already inside the banking hall before the rumour filtered in so that they can go out.
The effects was felt much because it was the first working day of the week and the month of December, when many civil servants, whose salaries for the month of November were paid into the banks last week.
However, men of the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) were quickly mobilised by the state Police Command to patrol the streets of Akure, particularly in areas where banks were located.
The men of the SARS were seen patrolling the streets in their Hilux Vans and Armour Personnel Carriers (APC) in combat mood.
The closure of the banks made the people to besiege banks ATM points apparently to withdraw money as many people interviewed, who said ordinarily they do not like using the ATM cards, were forced to do so.
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) for the command, Mr. Aremu Adeniran, said the command had done all that were necessary to ensure security of lives and property of the populace.
Meanwhile, men of the command in the early hours of yesterday arrested two suspected armed robbers, who specialised in blocking highways with logs of wood to rob motorists on the Akure-Ilesha highway and adjourning roads in the area.
Adeniran, said the arrest was made possible following a tip off, which made the command to deploy a team of policemen to the area.
He said three hoodlums were also caught in the act along Ibuji-Ekiti road, where they blocked the road with a log of wood and intercepted a Toyota Hiace bus with registration number LAGOS XA 715 MUS.
Adeniran said the bus, driven by one Fadeyi Adekunle of U7 Odo Oja Street, Otun-Ekiti, loaded with plantain, was travelling from Akure to Ilorin.
He said the driver claimed that the robbers dispossessed him of N20,000 and a techno mobile phone.
The PPRO said: “A police patrol team raced to the scene and combed the area thoroughly and engaged the three robbers in a shoot-out.”
He explained that one of the hoodlums died during the encounter while the two others were arrested with the cutlasses, torch and the items they stole from the bus driver.
“The hoodlums; Messrs Umoru Farouk an indigene of Kwara State and Ibrahim Mamman from Dansardo in Zamfara state have been detained while investigation is in progress,” he said.