Bandits have killed a policeman, Mr. Sunday Agboricaen, and by-standers in Badagry area of Lagos State while robbing a pick-up van laden with a huge sum of money owned by a bank.
Eyewitness said the pick-up was being escorted by another van when hoodlums in a Sports Utility Vehicle opened fire on them, causing the occupants of the vehicles to run out.
It was learnt that the robbers, who shot sporadically, also killed a pregnant woman while other motorists and bystanders were hit by stray bullets
The robbers allegedly killed Agboricaen and injured other policemen but the police also shot one of the robbers before fleeing.
The robbers were said to have conveyed huge sums of money from the pick-up into their own vehicle before speeding off
An eyewitness, who craved anonymity, said the death toll could be as high as five because many people were shot.
He said, “Around 3pm on Tuesday, some thugs, wielding sophisticated weapons, opened fire on two trucks, one of which was carrying a huge sum of money. The robbers shot sporadically, hitting many bystanders at Mowo Bus Stop.
“Policemen, who were in one of the vehicles, came out and engaged them in a gun duel but the robbers overpowered them, killing one and injuring another. The robbers conveyed bundles of cash into their vehicle before fleeing.
“One of the robbers was shot but he managed to escape. In all, I can say about five people were killed because many people were shot, including some motorists, who parked to buy corn at the bus stop.”
The Commissioner of Police for the state command, Mr. Umar Manko, said efforts were being made to arrest the hoodlums.
Manko, who said the armed robbers might have acted on a tip-off, added that they succeeded because the vehicle used in transporting the money was not bullet proof.
He said, “We are on the trail of the hoodlums. The vehicle used by the bank was not a bullion van but a rickety pick-up truck. I use this opportunity to send a message to banks that if they want to transport money, they should do it properly. If you want to transport money, get a bullet-proof van and not an ordinary vehicle.
“From the look of things, it was an insider’s job but I don’t want to pre-empt investigations.”
The Police Public Relations Officer, Ngozi Braide, said only the policeman was reported dead but she added that investigations were ongoing.
Meanwhile, the command has arrested a 20-year-old barber, Ladun Agemo; a 27-year-old baker, Mr. Taofeek Bukola; and Wale Adeniyi for alleged armed robbery.
The police also recovered five AK-47 rifles and rounds of live ammunition from the suspects, who allegedly belong to an eight-man gang.
While parading the suspects, Manko said the suspects were trailed to Ogun State where they were planning to come and carry out an operation in Lagos.
Manko said their modus operandi was to rob in Lagos and return to Ogun after an operation.
The suspects said they only played minor roles in the robbery but expressed their willingness to cooperate with the police in apprehending the fleeing members.
One of them, Bukola, said, “I am not an active member of the gang. I own the Mazda and I only drive the robbers to where they rob and I help them escape. Akin is our leader but he is still on the run. I am actually a baker by vocation but the robbers usually pay me between N60,000 and N100,000 per operation which is more profitable.”
Agemo, the barber, said his role was to keep the guns for the robbers.
“I have a wife and a son who depend on me for survival and the N1,000 I was making daily from barbing was too little,” he said.
Adeniyi, one of the suspects, who sustained bullet wounds, told PUNCH Metro that if the police could drop charges against him, he would become a police informant.
He said, “I am a smuggler but I have followed the gang to three robbery operations. If the police could release me, I would become an informant, helping to make arrests. Already, I have given them the names of the robbers at large. They are: Koledowo, Wale, Dada, Mutairu.”