The people of Ibusa, Ogwashi-Uku, Igbodo and its environs in Delta North Senatorial District are yet to recover from the trauma they suffered last week when dare-devil robbers held the communities hostage, killing seven policemen including two Divisional Police Officers, a soldier and about three civilians. Victor Efeizomor writes
It looked like one of these movies you watch on television screen but it was a real life story. They shot sporadically and the people scampered for cover and ran for safety. In the end they left on their trail blood and tears even as dead bodies littered the ground. It was the day daredevil armed robbers chose to strike and they inflicted more than enough damage.
Mrs. Patricia Okocha, 43, sat in her shop singing lullaby to her six-month-old granddaughter she cuddled in her arm unaware of the visitor that strolled in. She looked startled initially but after a brief overture, she regained her composure. Madam Okocha runs a bar close to Union Bank branch office and Novpov Microfinance Bank at Ogbowella Unuozoma Quarters in Ibusa, an agrarian community in Oshimili South Local Government Area of Delta State. Some daredevil armed robbers had unleashed a reign of terror on Ibusa community where they robbed three banks and left a trail of death that claimed the lives of seven policemen, including two Divisional Police Officers, a soldier and about three civilians.
She hesitated, shook her head, staring into the void in deep reflection and said: “It’s better witnessed than explained. How I wished you (reporter) were around to witness what happened. It was like war, the shooting lasted for more than one hour, it was too much. I ran for my life, into my shop and laid down for fear of stray bullets.”
Contrary to reports, Okocha added: “the robbers raided three banks in Ibusa that day. They were shuttling between Bank PHB, Union Bank and Novpov Microfinance Bank. When they finished with Bank PHB and Union Bank, one of the robbers pointed at Novpov Microfinance Bank, adjacent to Union Bank, and they fired several shots into the bank, but they did not meet any of the bank officials as the staff took to their heels”.
She recalled that the Sunday afternoon that preceded the attack, four young men had come to her shop to request to buy Don Simon wine but unfortunately it was out of stock, but she directed them to the next shop adding that the men later returned to the her shop, but rather than stay inside, they preferred to stay outside, staring at the banks across the road. She said at that point she became suspicious of their movement as they were constantly staring at the banks that was robbed the next day.
According to her: “I have been on medical check as my Blood Pressure (BP) increased after that day because I was highly terrified. I have never seen anything like that, because a young man who had come to transact business in the bank was shot dead while another woman sustained bullet wounds on the head”.
31-year-old Buchi manages a boutique meters away from Bank PHB. She had barely opened her shop for the day’s business when the hoodlums descended on the town. While narrating her ordeal to THISADY on the day the robbers stormed Ibusa she said: “I was in my shop at about 9:45 am when we suddenly started hearing gun shots, everybody started running, including the market women, they left everything and ran away. I ran to my shop and hid myself, but the robbers kept saying that we should cooperate with them, that they did not come for us but that they have come to collect money from the bank. It was like a movie to me, the shooting refused to stop, I was praying to God in my mind that they should go away. Because of the shock I developed, I went to the hospital to see my doctor and he said my blood pressure has increased, that is what I am managing, I am on drugs now.”
However, THISDAY checks revealed that the inhabitants of Ibusa and Oguashi –Uku communities are highly traumatised occasioning from the shock received from the rampaging trigger-happy hoodlums that terrorized the people. THISDAY investigations further revealed that normal commercial seems to have returned, but uneasy calm pervades the town as the affected banks are yet to open to customers while the bullet riddled buildings are still under lock and key.
When the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ikechukwu Aduba visited the scene of the armed robbery attack at Ibusa and other places, he lamented the death of his men and others in the operation. He expressed shock at the rate of damage and told the policemen not to be discouraged but be ready to confront robbers anytime. “It is like a war situation, the damage is huge, the group of robbers are terrorists”, he said, adding that investigation into the incident has commenced, with the confession of the suspects in custody, they would get to the root of the case.
Narrating their ordeal to the police boss, the Zonal Operations Manager of Bank PHB Mr. Nosa Omo- Osoba said six of the robbers entered into the bank and forced the manager at gun- point to open the vault, and thereafter, they carted away undisclosed amount of money including those of the customers at the counter. He said in the raid one woman was killed, some staff wounded while their computers and other operational machines were destroyed. Similarly, at the Union Bank, the Manager, Mr. Rapheal Odia, who was on hand to receive the commissioner said one was killed while about N3.7million was carted away from the counters and customers as they were unable to open the vault. He told the commissioner of police that because of the massive raid by the robbers at the two banks, they were unable to open to customers and called for better security in and around banks to contain such attack in the future.
Aduba was also at Mopo 31, Ogwashi-Uku where he inspected the APC used for the operation and advised officers not to be discouraged but be gallant. Meanwhile, the Delta State Police Command as well as the Ogwashi-uku community are in mourning mood over the fate that befell John Danladi, a policeman that is praised for his gallantry against men of the underworld. The people of Ogwashi-Uku in particular are grieving over the fate of Danladi, whose fame and gallantry had become legendary in the community. He was said to have confronted and killed many hoodlums terrorising the community in the past few years, which led to him becoming a marked man by the robbers.
Infact, local folklore has it that Danladi narrowly escaped death, when a combination of robbers and assassins working on behalf of the gangs in the community, invaded his house with the intention of ending his life once and for all. He was however said to have just left the house a few minutes earlier on a spontaneous errand and the hired killers not finding him at home simply opened fire on his wife and children, killing them all in cold blood.
This dastardly act was said to have emboldened Danladi to embark on an all war against robbers and hoodlums in the community and his remarkable successes had earned him accolades and awards, the recent of which was his ordination as an evangelist just last Sunday, a week before his death by a Pentecostal church in the community, Tree of Life Church, in appreciation of his dedication to duty.
The police boss has condoled the family of the fallen officer and others who paid the supreme sacrifice in the operation. He described the late ASP Danladi as a great officer who gave the hoodlums a good fight while on earth. Some of the residents described Danladi as a man of the people and placed curse on the robbers that killed him. They said Oguashi – Uku and its environs is peaceful and secured majorly because of the efforts of Danladi, who has been fighting the robbers and other criminals to a standstill. “Those who killed Danladi will never have rest because while on earth he lived for the defenseless and fought greatly against robbers to make sure we experience peace”, a community leader said.
The Divisional Police Officer in charge of Abraka Divisional Police Station in Ethiope East Local Government Area of the state, Mr. Tim Chibukewe, as well as four other policemen and a woman, were gunned down in cold blood on their way to the state’s police command headquarters in Asaba, the state capital, where the DPO had allegedly been summoned to the state’s Criminal Investigation Department in continuation of the investigation into the killing of a policeman by his colleague in the division.
The woman, who was killed by the robbers, was said to be the wife of the deceased policeman, whose killing was being investigated. Eye witness reports claimed that the robbers had laid siege on Igbodo and were terrorizing a community bank which had just received some large payments from the usual Monday morning market people, when the Hilux conveying the DPO, the four Policemen and the woman, accidentally strayed innocently onto the scene on their way from Abraka.
The reports further claimed that the robbers, supposedly thinking that the passing police team had been detailed to quell the robbery, immediately opened rampant fire on the unsuspecting and unprepared police Hilux killing everyone inside with deadly and deliberate precision. Eye witness account said that the bandits circled the Hilux van severally to make sure that nobody was still alive after shooting the DPO in the head at close range, who they had already identified as the big fish in the team to make assurances doubly sure that he died on the spot.
Aduba, while parading the suspects said the robbers used unconventional weapons like rocket launchers, rocket propelled grenade and assault rifles to carry out their nefarious activities in the state, adding that the police was able to contain the rampaging robbers with the use of Armourd Personal Carrier (APC). The suspects are Odili Stephen Wilson, Ojade Sunday and Princely Oba.
He further stated that four of the robbers were gunned down and the suspects who were arrested are helping the police with useful information, adding that items recovered from the robbers include; one rocket launcher, one rocket propelled grenade, five AK 47 riffles, one 9mm Zastave pistol and 11 rounds of live ammunition. Other items recovered included; 350 rounds of 7.62 ammunition , N2,071,150.00, one Toyota Hummer bus with registration number No YB 58 MUS Lagos , 2 HP CPU, one network PVR , one green coloured Lincon Navigator Jeep, Toyota Hiace bus with plate number XC412 AGB and charms.