Emmanuel Adeyemi, Lokoja
Blood flowed freely on Thursday, June 4, 2020, at Isanlu, headquarters of Yagba West Local Government Area of Kogi State. That was the day daring armed robbers invaded a branch of the First Bank in the community and killed 11 people before they carted away millions of naira.
The bloody robbery, said to be the second in recent times left eight police personnel and three civilians dead including the divisional police officer, three women with one of them breast feeding a baby.
The nursing mother was identified as Charity Adekeye, a police Corporal from Ekiti State who joined the force about two years ago and a mother of one, Remilekun Adeyanju from Ekirin-Adde in Ijumu Local Government area of Kogi State.
Other casualties included three operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) who were on special operation. They were led by Inspector Gbolahan, described as “jovial, lively and sociable.”
It was learnt that of the three civilians killed were a suspect in police cell when the robbers invaded the station, an Okada rider who ran into the operation visiting his mother and a man who was hit by a stray bullet while sitting in his house .
Police Public Relations Officer, Willy Aya, said the robbers numbering about 25 came into the town in two vehicles and simultaneously attacked the First Bank branch and the Police Station with AK47 rifles and dynamites to gain access to the facilities.
An eye witness account told Daily Sun that the robbers who obviously came from a neighbouring state might have quietly came into the community two days earlier, monitoring the environment before they struck. The account said the robbers divided themselves into three groups and operated simultaneously making it impossible for anybody to penetrate them.
He said: “One group invaded the only police station in the community shooting any police operative at sight. Others were on the only highway that passes through the town shooting sporadically to scar residents and passers-by. The third group invaded the bank with dynamite and other dangerous weapons.
“The operation lasted about one hour. The robbers later escaped from the town snatching people’s vehicles, which they used as a decoy to escape. Some of the snatched vehicles were later recovered from neighbouring towns.”
It was gathered that the only police survivor, was a CID operative, a native of Kabba an Inspector, said to have stepped out of the station to buy food when the robbers besieged the station. He reportedly fled on sighting the robbers.
Governor Yahaya Bello, through his Chief Press Secretary, Mohammed Onogwu, asked security agents to fish out the robbers, describing the incident as “unacceptable, dastardly and cowardly.” He charged residents to assist security agencies by providing useful information to help combat crime in the state:
“Our open arms are no invitation to criminals. Our first responsibility as a government is to ensure the security of life and property.”
Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Matthew Kolawole, described the killings as “senseless and gruesome.” He called on the residents to remain vigilant and ready to share information with the security agencies to enable government to tackle insecurity headlong.
Senator representing Kogi West, Smart Adeyemi, described the robbery as an “unprecedented waste of precious lives.” He told government and security agencies not to be weakened rise up to the challenge by apprehending the culprits and further fortifying the state against vices.
The state Commissioner of Finance, Asiwaju Asiru, a native of the town assured residents that government would continue to do its best to secure their lives and properties.
Meanwhile, the remains of one of the slain policewomen, Remilekun Adeyanju, were interred at a cemetery in her hometown, Ekinrin-Adde, on Monday. She was born on April 19, 1980.
Her sister, Ibidun, also a policewoman serving in Ekiti State, said:
“We are sad with what happened. But we rest our hope in God. We trust Him to protect us and the only son she left behind.”
At the time of filing in this report, no arrest has been made over the robbery.