Pandemonium struck the Ikorodu area of Lagos State when armed robbers attacked a Zenith Bank branch in Ebute-Ipakodo on Wednesday, June 24, 2015.
One of the robbers, the PUNCH reports to have said; “Area, Zico come and see money. See money wey we dey look for.”
The robbers allegedly took N20 million that was arranged to be loaded into the Automated Teller Machines (ATM). A bank official described the robbers joy displayed by the robbers was compared to “what you see when a footballer scores a decisive goal.”
The robbers reportedly resorted to multi-tasking as some were inside Zenith Bank holding everyone hostage and looting the cash in the vault, the others were doing the same thing at the nearby First Bank branch. After they had robbed the banks to their satisfaction, they stepped out and challenged the policemen whose station was directly opposite the First Bank branch.
The robbers went as far as removing the number plates from and setting ablaze the three Sports Utility Vehicles (SUV), they drove to the banks as no Policeman was in sight. A young lady was reported to have led the over one hour long operation.
A teenage vulcaniser apprentice, identified as Rilwan and three other persons were injured by the robbers who fled after their robbery through a jetty in the area. The robbers were said to have been about 16 in number and started their operation at 9:00am shooting sporadically.
They were reported to have first opened fire on the police station before proceeding to rob the banks. THEY used dynamites to open the rotor doors of both bank in order to gain access and once inside, ordered all members of staff and customers to lie face down. While some of the robbers remained outside to scare off the people by shooting into the air.
Security operatives, policemen and soldiers, arrived at the scene after the robbers had fled by 1:30pm. The injured victims were taken to the Ikorodu General Hospital. A staff of Zenith Bank and a customer, who gave his name simply as Segun, were injured when they hit their heads on shattered glass while the vulcaniser and the other victim, a commercial bike rider, were hit by stray bullets.
According to the bank staff who narrated the ordeal said the robbers had carted away over N80 million from Zenith Bank which “a bullion van was to transport out of the bank.”
He continued; “They shouted, ‘open the door, open the door’, but none of us answered them. Suddenly, we heard an explosion and the glass went down. I was wounded by broken glasses.
“One of them entered and when he saw about N20m that we had arranged to put inside our ATMs, he shouted, ‘Area, Zico see money . See money wey we dey look for.’He started dancing. He pulled a lady among us and ordered her to pack the money inside the bags they brought. After packing the money , the robbers ordered her to lead them to the strong room.
“When the lady opened the strong room, the robber that shouted in the ATM room exclaimed again, ‘Eheeeee, Area, Zico give me bags! Give me bags. Come and see money wey we dey look for. They packed everything in the strong room; more than N60m. We were expecting a bullion van to move the money before the incident happened.”
Segun said, “I was at the ATM section of the Zenith Bank to withdraw money. Suddenly, there were gunshots. Two of the gunmen came in and one of them threw me on the floor. He wanted to shoot, but his colleague told him to leave me.”
Another eyewitness, Ikechukwu Oyenso, said, “I was at the First Bank at exactly 9am to use the ATM. It was my turn when we suddenly heard gunshots. I saw two of the robbers shooting directly at the police station and the policemen ran away.
“Some gunmen came into the First Bank. A guy stood outside and two entered the bank.
“They used dynamite to destroy the door of the bank. They entered the banking hall and ordered everybody to lie down. These guys looked young. They were dressed in black and they wore caps. They did not use masks. They robbed for over an hour. It was terrible.”
A resident of the area, Chinedu Chapel, said the police were helpless, adding that it was a pointer that citizens were not secured.
A Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), pastor, Anayo Okpara, shared his experience on Facebook thus;
“This (Wednesday) morning, between the hours of 9am and 10am, I was a few meters away from the scene of a bank robbery at Ipakodo, Ebute, Ikorodu. The robbers operated with guns for about 30 minutes right opposite a police station.
“Everyone took cover, including the policemen; not even the military officers at the other end could come to the aid of the citizens. We were more like in a war scene with gunshots roaring for the entire 30 minutes.
“About 20 minutes after the robbers were done and gone, the whole place became flooded with policemen, I counted about 10 pickups, two armoured tanks and one OP MESA pickup van. Except the Lord watches a city, the watchmen stay awake in vain!”
Another eyewitness by name Ademola Fashola who hid somewhere around the jetty while the robbers escaped narated his ordeal;
“I came to withdraw money from the First Bank ATM, but I changed my mind and headed for Ipakodo, near the jetty. I was there when I heard the gunshots. After they had robbed the banks, the gang leader, a woman, walked while their cars moved towards the Origin Gardens (the jetty area). She dared the police to come out and ordered her gang members not to shoot anybody. She is not up to 20 years. I saw five of them. They dragged the bags that contained the money inside the jetty. I heard one of them calling somebody to pick them. He was shouting ‘Taofeeq, Taofeek, come and pick us now’.”
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Yet another eyewitness who gave his name simply as Saheed, said, “Where I hid, I saw them carrying bags of money into the jetty. That short woman held the gun, while another guy took the money inside the jetty. When they were about to escape, they removed the number plates of their three cars, poured fuel on them and shot at one of them, which erupted in flames.
“Along that waterfront are naval officers. Where were they then?”
Femi Awode, the security head of Ipakodo Community Development Association, stated how he kept calling policemen to no avail.
COmmissioner of Police in Lagos State, Kayode Aderanti, said the command would arrest the robbers after visiting the scene with some military officials.
He said, “I am here with other service chiefs to have a joint coordinated approach to this incident. We are very positive that we are going to get to the root of the matter. Just give us time.
“The timing and conduct of the men (police officers) are also going into investigation. We are checking the operation of these jetties and the vulnerability of our waterways. Nobody died.”
DSP Kenneth Nwosu, command’s Public Relations Officer avowed that the police would give anybody with useful information about the robbers that would lead to their arrest the sum of N5 million.
“The command will reward anybody with useful information towards the arrest of the bank robbers with N5m,” he said.
However, First Banks’s spokesperson, Mr. Babatunde Lasaki, said that he could not confirm whether or not he robbers had taken any money from the bank as he was yet to receive details of the incident.