Four robbery suspects were set ablaze in Okuku, Yala Local Government Area in the northern part of Cross River State on Thursday, May 14, 2015 evening for robbing traders in the popular Okuku market.
The young men, three of them indigenes of the area and one from neighbouring Ebonyi State, were alleged to have attacked the traders from Akwa Ibom State, who come to the market every five days to buy foodstuffs, at the market’s motor park and robbed them of the money they came with to buy foodstuff.
PM News reports that at about 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 13, 2015 a bus carrying traders from neighbouring states arrived the park, their usual custom being to sleep over in the park to await the market day. One of the robbers who was monitoring the arrival of the bus notified his gang members who came armed with locally made pistols and machetes, attacked the traders and dispossessed them of their money and phones while shooting sporadically.
After the robbery attack the boys escaped to Wodah, a village a few kilometres away from the market, where some people became suspicious as one of them was dressed like a lady and when the villagers heard of the robbery at the market they apprehended them and the next day brought them back to the motor park where a mob identified them as the robbers who attacked the traders the previous day and descended on them.
One of the angry youths said the suspects were first attacked with machetes before being set ablaze to serve as a deterrent to other youths .
“Okuku market is popular and traders come from all over the country to do business here and if our young men are allowed to turn the place to a robbery haven, then the market will soon cease to exist,” he told our reporter.
A source at the Divisional Police Station in Okpoma, Yala Local Government Headquarters, under whose jurisdiction Okuku is located, said before the police could arrive the market, the mob had already set the suspects ablaze.
Mr Hogan Bassey, the spokesman of the Cross River Police Command told our correspondent: “We have had reports like that from the area but we can only confirm the veracity of such information when the DPO comes to brief us or sends his briefs which would be within the week and that is when I can give you the details.”
Robbers have been terrorising the people of Okuku since last year.Residents of Okuku said they hoped Thursday’s mob attack on four of them may bring about respite for them.