The peace of Festac Town in Mile 2 area of Lagos was shattered on Tuesday when 40 armed robbers stormed three banks located on 4th Avenue and carted away currencies in naira and dollars.
The hoodlums, however, left behind wailing, anguish and pain in the household of Mr. Peter Ndirika after a stray bullet shot by the robbers killed his wife, Jane Ebele and her one and a half year old baby, Masoma Ndisika.
The robbers, who operated for over two hours without restraint, and numbering about 40, reportedly accessed the banks through the canal in a speedboat and announced their presence by shooting sporadically into the air.
At the end of the operation, little Masoma laid dead having been hit in the neck by a stray bullet which had earlier hit her mother, Jane. The bullet, according to her neighbours penetrated her chest before hitting her daughter.
While Masoma died in their flat on Block 8, Flat 13 on 4th Avenue, her mother, Ebele died in the hospital she was rushed to for treatment.
Eye witnesses told Daily Sun that the robbers gained entry into the banks by blowing up the entrance with dynamite and the sound of the explosion sent panic across the vicinity.
Thereafter, it was two hours of chaos, fear, panic and pains. After robbing and looting the vaults of the two banks, they stormed another bank in the area.
It was also gathered that while the robbery lasted, the robbers who were armed with GMP riffles fired their guns sparodically to scare away policemen.
The robbers eventually succeeded in carting away about N28 million. But according to witnesses, the robbers went away with cash in foreign and local currencies in Ghana-must-go bags. Some eyewitnesses said while the robbers fled the scene, some bundles of dollar notes and naira fell from the Ghana-must-go bags. “Can you imagine, they took the dollar notes and left naira notes!”
Daily Sun also gathered that, that same morning, local bureau de change dealers on 22 Road in FESTAC Town were robbed before the attacks on the banks
As the robbers shot bullets into in the air, there was response from other quarters (speculated to have come from men of the Odua Peoples Congress (OPC) which temporarily destabilised the robbers. The eyewitnesses said that the response infuriated the robbers who shot sporadically into the air and in different directions as a form of defence.
They eventually escaped with a speedboat through the canal.
However, at the Ndirika’s residence in Flat 13, it was anguish and pain all through.
Ndirika reportedly worked at Alimosho Local Government area as a nurse and was on afternoon duty preparatory to going to work when the unfortunate incident happened.
Mrs Uju Darlington, a family friend, who was also in the same house when the incident happened, narrated the story to Daily Sun. She said they were all at home when the shootings started and so, they all “ran for cover and immediately, shut the door and laid down on the floor as a safety measure.
“But, while they were lying on the floor, the woman heard the voice of her baby who was in the room. She dashed into the room to comfort her.
“As was cuddling her baby, in less than a minute, the woman just screamed and threw the baby on the bed. As she screamed, there was a flash of fire in the house.
“Everyone in the house ran to her rescue and the woman started shouting ‘please help me fast…, please help me fast, oh God I’m dying o, I’m dying’. The woman was in pains and in the pool of her own blood.
“By the time paramedics arrived to administer First Aid, they discovered a deep cut on her shoulders and her chest, which suggested that the bullet ripped her chest to get to her shoulders.
“Amidst the pandemonium, and since the shootings was ongoing, there was no way that they could rush the woman to the hospital. First aid was performed on her by dressing the wound and covering it. We waited while the shootings continued for another one hour. At that point, the baby was no longer crying but in the pool of her own blood…
“When they finally arrived at the hospital, Masoma was confirmed dead on the spot and her corpse was brought back home. But her mother was admitted in the hospital where she later died.”
The bereaved, Mr. Peter Ndirika, has been inconsolable since yesterday morning. It was gathered that he had left for work when the incident happened. However, neighbours broke the news to him.
Not less than 10 minutes after the robbers left, heavily armed policemen, came to the scene in about 20 police vehicles and an ASP amour tank. Even the Area Commander of FESTAC Town, Mr. Frank Mba, was also on ground.
In a jiffy, a huge crowd had besieged the area to have a glimpse of what happened.
Although Mba led his men to the scene, a huge crowd had besieged the area and was almost unruly, when news filtered in about the death of Masoma and her mother. Police reportedly called for reinforcement with naval officers and soldiers who restored calm.
He told Daily Sun that, “at about 8.25, the Command received information of sporadic shooting along 4th Avenue. A joint team of policemen from Area E and FESTAC Division promptly responded to the incident.
“On arrival, the policemen engaged the robbers numbering over 40 all in military camouflage and armed to the teeth in fierce gun battle. Not withstanding the numerical disadvantage of the police strength at the beginning of the operation, the hot exchange of fire, forced the robbers who were simultaneously robbing two banks to abandon the operation.
“The police action equally forced the robbers to abandon N27 715.921.74k, which was later recovered by the police and transferred under armed escort safe keeping into another bank. Police actions also forced the armed robbers to abandon 240 rounds of 7.62mm live ammunition.
“The robbers later retreated to the water front from where they fled in speed boats
The scene of crime has been condoned off while investigating has since commenced.”
A Police source told Crime watch Today, however, “we were deceived by the robbers. They came with two vehicles believed to have been be snatched. “We didn’t confront them in order to avoid casualties. We called for reinforcement, barricaded the roads, not knowing that the hoodlums had already parked two speed boats in the canal near 6th Avenue.
“As we were chased them, they drove towards 6th Avenue and escaped in two boats. It was a well organised robbery.It was a big lesson to us.
“I must confess, the robbers were armed with GMP riffles and dynamites. The two persons the robbers shot dead were not killed at the scene.They were hit by stray bullets but, there has not been any official report about the deaths…”