Suspected armed robbers who stormed the second-largest town in Kwara State last Thursday divided themselves into two teams upon arrival, with the first team confining officers at the nearest police station while the other unleashed terror on bank premises and residents, the state police commissioner said.
Daredevil robbers stormed Offa at the close of business on April 5, killing 17 people and raiding five bank branches in an operation that witnesses said lasted for nearly two hours.
Some media reports have quoted a death toll as high as 32.
“Because they came in large number, they were able to divide themselves, attacking the banks and attacking the police station at the same time,” police commissioner Lawan Ado reported.“They demobilised the police station.”
The strategy, which the state police spokesperson described as “spontaneous and simultaneous”, saw the robbers spend over one hour without any potent resistance from law enforcement authorities, according to witnesses accounts.
At least eight police officers were killed at Owode Police Division at the heart of the polytechnic town, and four of the remaining nine victims were suspects in police custody. The robbers also made away with uncertain but large amount of money from the branches of Zenith Bank, Guarantee Trust Bank, Union Bank , First Bank and Eco Bank in the town.
Eight suspects have been taken into custody in connection with the attack, and inspector-General Ibrahim Idris said he had deployed more officers to the state to stymie security threats.
The brazen dimension of the incident has fueled renewed concerns about the state of law enforcement agencies countrywide, especially the police whom security analysts fear have become hopelessly underfunded and ill-equipped amidst rising criminal activities.