Presidency Commiserates with Victims of Offa Bank Robbery

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  • Police arrest seven suspects
  • Saraki seeks improved security

Abimbola Akosile and Hammed Shittu in Ilorin

The Presidency has sympathised with the victims of armed robbery attacks which were carried out on five banks in Offa, Kwara State last Thursday, during which 17 people were confirmed killed, including nine policemen.

The official message was contained in a series of tweets on the Presidency Twitter handle @NGRPresident saturday, more than 48 hours after the incident, and two minutes after a tweet by a former new media aide of former president Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, Mr. Reno Omokri, who castigated the presidency for failing to express any condolence to the victims of the Offa robbery attacks.

Omokri, in his first tweet on his Twitter handle @renoomokri at 14.36pm wrote “Policemen died during the daring Offa bank robbery. Not a word of condolence from President Buhari. He even travelled to Katsina. Imagine what this does to the morale of the Police? They are not paid well and their Commander-in-Chief does not give a damn when they are killed!”

In an apparent reply to Omokri’s tweet, the presidency at 14.38pm tweeted “We sympathise with the families of victims, residents of Offa and the Government and people of Kwara State, on Thursday’s violent robbery attack. @PoliceNG have arrested a number of suspects & deployed extra personnel to the town, to assist in investigations and beef up security”.

Omokri, in his response to the official tweet, said “Look at the time stamp on those tweets. Exactly two minutes after I criticized President Muhammadu Buhari for not condoling with the families of the 9 policemen killed during the Offa bank robbery, and instead jetting off to Katsina for the weekend, the President hurriedly issued a condolence. Obviously, Aso Rock monitors my tweets and are adjusting their behaviour accordingly.

“When a gunman killed 9 people in Munich, Germany on July 22, 2016, President Buhari condoled with the German people the next day. When 9 policemen were killed by bank robbers in Offa, President Buhari jetted to his village. No condolence. No visit. It was as if nothing happened!” he added.

Meanwhile, the Kwara state police command saturday said it has arrested seven persons in connection with the armed robbery attacks in Offa.

The state police Commissioner Ado Lawan disclosed this to reporters in Ilorin, the Kwara state capital. He said one person was arrested at Igosun road while the six others were arrested at different locations in Offa.

The commissioner however said the arrested suspects have been helping police in its investigation on the incident. He also said seven vehicles abandoned, were recovered from the armed robbers.

In a related development, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, piqued at the manner in which armed bandits attacked banks in Offa, yesterday called for a general improvement on the security infrastructure of the country.

Saraki made the call in Offa when he paid a condolence visit to the Olofa of Offa, Oba Muftau Gbadamosi Esuwoye on the recent bank robbery incident in the town. He said Nigeria’s security challenges are as a result of the country’s inadequate response to security.

According to Saraki, “All the issue had to do on how we’ll improve on our security infrastructure. It is clear that we are not responding adequately to this. That’s why we organised a security summit sometime ago to address the issue and to work closely with the executive and see how we can find solution to the security problems in the country.

“We, on the legislative arm, are ready to come up with the real design to improve on the security challenges, whether it is the human resources, equipment, whether it has to do with funding and legislation. There is also the issue of the actual structure of the police.

“This issue requires a very radical and serious minded approach. Unless we address this we will continue to have this kind of scenario where a bunch of criminals will hold a town for two hours and carry out this mayhem. There is no society that will really allow this kind of thing to happen.

“We condole with the families of both the civilians and the policemen that died during the incident. In a place like Offa that is very vibrant in commerce, we must address security challenge so that people can continue to carry out their normal activities.

“The police must see this as an institutional issue. It is not personal. On our part as legislators we are ready to do anything that will empower them,” he stated.

On the question of inviting the military for assistance, the Senate President said “there is no society that delegates the responsibilities of the police to that of the military because it also has its own fallbacks; the number of the military is very thin. They are in most of the states of the federation. This makes it difficult for them to protect the territorial integrity of the country.”

Also speaking, the Olofa of Offa, Oba Mufutau Gbadamosi harped on the need for the establishment of state police.

The monarch said: “It will be better for the Federal Government to establish state police. With that they will be closer to the people and to the state government. This is the fourth time that we will experience this kind of robbery attacks in the last ten years.

“One of the major problems of the police force is inadequate manpower. We discover that in Offa local government area here the number of policemen is not up to 50.”

The monarch added, “Anytime we have something like this there will be no reinforcement anywhere. So what we need is manpower. The state government can afford to buy us armoured personnel carrier (APC), it can afford to build more police station but if the manpower is not there it is not enough.

“What the Federal Government needs to do is to employ as many graduates looking for jobs into the police force, Army, Air Force and the Navy. There is a lot of unemployed graduates that are ready to join these military and para-military forces. There is no security at all in the country. If you were here on that fateful day you will know what I am saying”.

Oba Gbadamosi stressed, “We have always been involving local security, but you know these criminals when they come they always catch people unaware. There is risk attached to the use of local hunters, because by the time we get them involved because of a day like this, the police will arrest them and say they are carrying Dane guns.”

Also, Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara, has offered N5million to anyone who provides information that will lead to the arrest of those involved in the robbery attack in Offa.

The offer was made in a statement by the Governor’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Communications, Dr. Muideen Akorede on Saturday.

The governor called on anyone with useful information on the incident to contact the state police command on the following numbers (0803 739 1280 and 0803 702 4320).

“While we mourn our dead with a heart full of sadness, and care for the injured by paying all their medical bills, we will do everything in our power to bring the attackers to justice, and ensure that never again does any community or people in our state experience such tragedy”, Ahmed said.

He assured such informants of anonymity, confidentiality and safety, adding that no harm would befall them on account of assisting the security agencies to arrest the attackers.

He said the police and other security agencies in the country have begun a vigorous manhunt for the perpetrators of the dastardly and wicked attack on Offa community.