The Governor of Benue State, Rev Fr Hyacinth Alia, has decried Friday’s armed daredevil robbery on five commercial banks all in Otukpo Local Government Area which instantly led to the death of eight people.
The robbers came in their dozens packed in two Hilux vans and a car, attacking United Bank for Africa (UBA), Zenith Bank, First Bank, Access Bank, and Stanbic Bank with sophisticated guns and explosives. Strangely, most of the affected banks are located opposite the Divisional Police Headquarters in the ancient town.
Among the victims of the attacks were three customers including a councillor of Otukpo Ward 2 who was transacting business in one of the affected banks at the time. Some two police personnel were also killed.
Eyewitness accounts have it that the armed robbers stormed the banks at exactly 3:30pm on Friday and carried on the attack unchallenged till about 4:50pm.
Some of the victims died of severe gunshot injuries including stray bullets after they were taken to the hospital a situation that rose the death toll from the eight earlier reported.
In his reaction, Governor Alia described the robbery incident “as an affront to the state”, regretting that the incident “took place at the exact time the security council meeting held to tackle the excruciating insecurity situation bedevilling the state was in progress at the government house in Makurdi”.
The Governor, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Kula Tersoo, sympathized with the families of those who were gruesomely murdered by the robbers during the incident.
According to him, “It is an unfortunate development that people who were on duty, especially police officers, were shot and killed in cold blood by those mindless robbers.
“But they cannot get away with this. Already, security agencies are on their trail and must apprehend and bring them to justice”.
Governor Alia called on the people of the state to be vigilant and endeavour to report suspicious movements around them all the time.
In the main, the Police Public Relations Officer in Benue State, Anene Sewuese Catherine, issued a statement, disclosing that the robbers who were intercepted along Otukpo-Taraku road engaged officers in a gun duel and two of them (the robbers) died in the process.
The Superintendent of Police further disclosed that the other gang members who abandoned their vehicles and escaped into the forest area are being chased by the police.
“The DPO who sustained a gunshot injury on his stomach and three other police officers have been confirmed dead at the hospital. Other persons who sustained injuries in the bank have been moved to the hospital for treatment. Investigation is ongoing at the moment,” the PPRO added.
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