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Editorial Dastardly robbery in Offa -Daily Trust

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Two weeks ago, Nigeria witnessed one of the deadliest and most daring robbery attacks in recent times. About 30 heavily armed men attacked five commercial banks in Offa, the second largest town in Kwara State.  The bandits blew up the banks vaults with explosives. They killed customers and carted away an undisclosed amount of money.  Before going to the banks they attacked a police station in the area, where they killed officers and carted away arms. They created tension in the entire town as residents scampered for safety.

It was gathered that the bandits, who operated for about an hour, entered the town around 4:45pm and operated till about 5:40pm as they first blocked roads from both Ilorin and Oshogbo ends. Shortly after the attack, police arrested eight suspects just as Kwara State Governor Abdul Fattah Ahmed offered N5million to anyone who provides useful information that could lead to the arrest of the robbers. This attack shocked all Nigerians. The Presidency condemned it and the Senate ordered a probe into the matter.

The Offa attack mirrored a similar robbery which occurred five months ago in Lapai, Niger State. In that incident robbers attacked two banks, killing two policemen and four others. Eighteen other persons were injured in that attack. It was gathered that the robbers, who operated in a similar style like those who attacked Offa, on arrival in the town through the Lapai-Gunu road drove straight to the main police station close to one of the banks and started shooting sporadically. They killed two policemen on duty before heading to the bank, where the Branch Manager was abducted. They also carted away a substantial amount of money from the bank’s vault. The two attacks occurred in about the same format. It appears the mode of operation is that the robbers identify a town big enough to host banks, but located a bit far away from the state capital so that when they attack, they cause havoc before reinforcement of security agents can take place.  Lapai is about one hour away from Minna, the Niger State capital just as Offa, is about the same distance from Ilorin the capital of Kwara. 

Many years ago, banks were targets of attack but that reduced following the adoption of high tech security gadgets by the finance houses.  But these robbers beat that security system by arriving at their target cities in large numbers, armed with explosives and other dangerous weapons. This is a new and dangerous dimension to the insecurity situation in the country as the number of casualties in every attack is usually huge, not to mention the customers’ money and arms carted away. 

We sympathise with families of those who died and wish all those who were injured in the incident a quick recovery.   This is another challenge thrown to security agents and they must rise to the occasion by reviewing their operation and coming up with new strategies that will mitigate these attacks. The bank authorities should also review and update their security apparatus. In the two attacks mentioned, it was noted that the robbers operated freely for over an hour. This amplifies the need for adequate security personnel to be in all nooks and crannies of the country. 

Even if they cannot be everywhere, security agents should be stationed as close as possible to every town/city.  Rapid response squads shouldn’t be concentrated in state capitals only. This again re-echoes the need to free policemen from duties that are not core to their profession so that enough men/ officers will be available to protect citizens.  We commend the police for the arrests made so far in connection with the incident and we urge the Force not to rest on its oars. It should extract adequate information from those in custody so that it can track down all those who are on the run. Also proper investigation should be conducted and all those found guilty should be made to face the law.

Daily Trust

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