The armed robbers who attacked branches of First Bank and Access Bank in Apomu and Ikire areas of Osun State on Wednesday targeted a bullion van bringing cash to the banks.
It was, however, gathered that the robbers missed their target, as they had already been repelled before the bullion van bringing money arrived in the town.
The well coordinated attacks, which took place at four different spots in the two towns, left no fewer than seven people dead.
A source near the Ikire branch of First Bank said the robbery was unsuccessful, adding that the gunmen could not also gain access to the bank’s vault before they were repelled.
The robbers threw dynamite into the palace of the Akire of Ikire during the operation, though no one was injured.
An eyewitness, who did not want to be identified, said the robbers entered through Ikoyi town and demobilised the Armoured Personnel Carrier stationed at the entrance of the town and shot dead a police officer.
Having split into three groups, the gang, it was learnt, moved on motorcycles carrying three men each, who moved to Ikire and Apomu, where they launched coordinated attacks on a branch of Access Bank in Apomu, a branch of First Bank and the police divisional headquarters both in Ikire, where a police inspector and two community policing officers were killed.
Speaking at the premises of the divisional police headquarters in Ikire on Thursday, a resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he was at the station when the robbers struck.
According to him, the robbers arrived at the police station some minutes after 6pm on a motorcycle and hid their weapons in a sack.
He added that immediately they alighted, the robbers shot a police inspector said to be carrying arms, and a constabulary that had just completed his duty. Both men died on the spot.
Another constabulary that just resumed duty was also reportedly shot dead on the premises of the division, as the robbers advanced into the station.
During a visit to the station, our correspondent observed that the windows in the building and ceilings were riddled with bullets.
The robbers were also said to have entered into the cells and freed those in detention.
At Apomu, the robbers were, however, prevented from gaining entrance into the bank, as members of the Oodua People’s Congress mounted resistance.
The immediate past Chairman of the Irewole Local Government Area, Mr Remi Abbas, while speaking to PUNCH Metro, said combined efforts of youths and local security outfits frustrated the operation.
He said, “Around 6.30pm, we began to hear gunshots and blasts of dynamite simultaneously at four strategic places: First Bank and the Divisional Police Headquarters, Ikire; Access Bank, Apomu; and the Armoured Personnel Carrier spot at Ikoyi.
“Initially, we thought it was a minor robbery, but when I called the DPO, he told me that the station was under attack. Almost about the same time, I was told the palace was also under attack.
“The Akire called that the palace and First Bank were under attack. There and then, we began to mobilise local hunters, members of the Oodua People’s Congress, Agbekoya and vigilante groups to defend the community.
“As of today, eight people have been confirmed dead — three regular policemen, two special constabularies and three civilians. The dare-devil armed robbers were very strategic and with the way they operated, they had enough intelligence.”
The Osun State Police Command on Thursday confirmed the death of seven people.
A statement by the command’s spokesperson, Yemisi Opalola, said the robbers, numbering about 35, came in about five vehicles and simultaneously attacked the areas with explosive devices and guns.
She said the attack on the police station was to ease their robbery of the two banks.
“It was unfortunate that ASP Osho Oluranti, Inspector Lekan Olalere, two special constabularies, namely: Oladeni Olalekan and Oyedeji Muyideen, were shot dead in the process.
“On sighting the overwhelming policemen comprising the Prompt Response Unit, the CP’s Surveillance Team, IRT operatives, STS, 39 PMF, JTF, along with the local security outfits, who swiftly engaged them in a fierce gun duel, the robbers began to flee. While escaping, they shot sporadically and regrettably, three civilians were shot, namely: Toheeb Oyebola, Temilorun Adebiyi and one other, whose identity is not yet known.”
Opalola said the hoodlums fled with gunshot wounds and abandoned two of their operational vehicles.
The police spokesperson noted that the remains of the deceased persons had been deposited in the Oluyoro Catholic Hospital Morgue, Apomu, adding that effort was on to apprehend the fleeing robbers.