It turned out an easy venture. It was too simple a task that in the excitement that followed, they forgot their weapon—a loaded AK 47 rifle. It happened in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, where a gang of armed robbers, apparently working on insider information, launched an attack on a politician in whose car was a bag containing N2 million.
The attack was said to have taken place at a building construction site at Ekorinim, in the outskirts of Calabar metropolis, last weekend.
The politician, the owner of the building under construction, was said to have parked his car at one end of the site and walked towards where the workers were working. He was said to have even walked further to a slope at one end of the site giving directives to the workers on what to be done and how the job should be done.
While he continued his supervision of the work, his attention was said to have been diverted from his sport utility vehicle (SUV) wherein he had kept the N2 million. Unknown to him, the robbers who had earlier laid siege for him, simply walked to where the vehicle was parked, used a master key to open one of its doors and, quickly, they carted away the cash.
The victim who preferred anonymity, had brought the sum to the site so he could pay the workers on site as well as pay for services of a bulldozer, which was grading and levelling the slope in the site.
In narrating his loss, he said: “When I arrived at the plot, I securely locked the doors of my car after I had alighted and walked down to the slope where the bulldozer was piling sand but after some time when I went to the car, it was open and the money was no more there.”
He said that while he was passing instructions to the workers who were some distance away, the hoodlums, “apparently acting on information, swooped on the car, used a master key and unlocked the vehicle and carted away my money.”
He was so shocked at the swiftness of the robbery that he initially suspected that some of the workers on site might have been responsible for the theft
He therefore mobilised the entire workforce at the site and they began to comb the surrounding bushes in search of the thieves. It was while the search was going on that one of the workers discovered one AK 47 rifle, loaded with a magazine where the bandits had laid ambush.
The plan may have been to strike at the point of payment of the workers. And that was why they laid ambush in wait for the auspicious time. But the “abandonment” of the car containing the cash may have forced the robbers to activate their ‘Plan B,’ which necessitated the use of a master key to open the locked car. And it worked. They ended up firing no bullet, got all there was to get and in the process, they forgot their tool of trade.
The politician said he had since reported the matter to the police at the Diamond Hill Police Station from where a team of policemen was despatched to the scene of the crime. He added that the policemen, during their preliminary investigation, recovered the AK47 rifle.
The spokesman for the Cross River State Police Command, Mr. John Umoh, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), who confirmed the story, added that the police were already carrying out investigation to fish out the robbers.
None of the workers was arrested yet. But part of the investigation may require questioning some or all of them. There is a belief that the robbers must have worked in concert with some of the site workers who knew that the owner of the project would not only come to site on the day in question, but would also bring along a huge amount of money.
A source told THISDAY, “that kind of operation cannot be that successfully executed without accurate information. And such information could come from the workers, or the family or even driver of the politician,” adding that the police “must stretch the dragnet of their investigation to cover all possible clues.”
The success of the robbery drums home the importance of the cashless economy campaign launched by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) last year. The incident also exposes the constraint in the policy. How else, for instance, would casual workers who do not have bank accounts, be paid, if not in cash? However, the volume of money involved is seemingly more than enough to pay the so-called casual workers.