My sister went to report a peeping Tom to the police when she was killed -Brother of Offa robbery victim
The event of last Thursday in Offa, Kwara State, will perhaps remain unforgettable in many months to come. That day, mothers lost their children; children lost their mothers; husbands lost their wives; and wives lost their husbands. Everyone was thrown into mourning.
On that bloody day, robbers said to be numbering about 30 invaded the rather quiet town, blocked the roads connecting Ilorin, Kwara State with Osogbo, Osun State, then entered the Owode Police Station in the town. Their first mission was to disarm the police. And so they did.
Thereafter, they reportedly distributed themselves into five groups, each group comprising of about six, and unleashed horrifying attacks on five banks in the town.
By the time their about an hour's operation ended, they had killed scores of policemen and residents of the town and sent a shocker across Offa's neighbouring towns and villages.
A week after, families have continued to mourn their beloved ones who died in the attack, but a rather unusual story of one of the victims was that of Mrs. Kuburat Salam.
According to Salam's brother, who is a former Secretary, Offa Local Government Area, Mr. Muftau Adeyemo, Salam had met her untimely death when she went to report a man who was peeping at her while having bath at her residence and was discussing with a policewoman at the Offa Divisional Police Headquarters.
Adeyemo, whose cousin, simply identified as Adesina, also got wounded by a bullet in the incident, explained that the Peeping Tom had visited a friend who lives in the same compound with Salam.
He added that when Salam noticed that the young man was allegedly peeping at her when she was bathing, she confronted him but the man was not remorseful.
Adeyemo said, "Salam was killed. She went to the police station. My sister was married, she was about 40 years. She was living in a 'face-you-and-face-me' apartment. She was bathing and a young man was living in that compound. A guy came to visit him. He walked across the bathroom where my sister was bathing, and I learnt he was peeping into the bathroom. My sister confronted him and said, 'you are not living here and you just came to peep at a woman bathing?' The man ran away.
"When my sister's husband came back home, they went to the shop of the young man living in that compound. They met the man who was peeping and he started fighting my sister. So, the people around advised that my sister should report the man to the police. She went to the police station and the police arrested the Peeping Tom and his friend and detained them.
"On the second day, the neighbours pleaded that the men should be released and that we should withdraw the matter. The police said my sister who reported the case must be at the police station before the men could be released. My sister then went there and the matter was settled. The two young men went away.
"My sister was later discussing the incident with a policewoman within the police premises; the policewoman was not around when the matter was reported the previous day. As my sister was narrating the story, the robbers came in. She ran inside the police station, but the robbers followed her and killed her and everybody in the police station.
"It was only the Divisional Police Officer and the Divisional Crime Officer who escaped. At least nine policemen and 10 civilians were killed in the police station alone, let alone those who were killed outside the police station and at the banks."
Describing what happened to his cousinn, Adesina, who was also injured, Adeyemo said the young man had gone to one of the banks to withdraw money.
He explained that as soon as Adesina parked and alighted from his car and was heading towards the Automated Teller Machine section of the bank, one of the robbers ordered him to come.
He added that before Adesina could cross the road to meet with the robber, a street urchin that also wanted to collect money from Adesina was gunned down by one of the robbers.
Adeyemo said. "Adesina wanted to withdraw money from the ATM. One of the robbers who wanted to collect his car key from him commanded him to bring the key. He wanted to move, but the robber said, 'No, just stay with me.' Another robber came and said, 'Who is this person? The first robber said, 'I am the one that asked him to stay.'
"The second robber said, 'Nonsense.' He cocked his gun and shot at him. Adesina fell down and pretended as if he had died and later when the robbers left, he was rushed to the hospital where he is being treated.
"Even my friend, Alawunde Jamiu, who was a staff of a microfinance bank near Zenith Bank was killed. He thought they were his customers and wanted to receive them. They asked him, 'Where is the key to the strongroom?' He said he was not the manager. They shot at him."
Adeyemo said last Thursday's robbery attack was an unfortunate incident and still shocking to him.
He faulted intelligence gathering and the security situation in Offa in particular and Kwara State in general. He said the robbers might have been visiting Offa before the day they finally struck.
He said it was needful to take security serious in the state, adding that Offa had witnessed many robbery attacks in the past.
He also called for more vigilance among security operatives in the community.
Adeyemo said, "We do not take security as an important issue in this state generally. In 2013 when armed robbers came to the Offa Divisional Police Station, they killed most of the policemen. Now, the Commissioner of Police came and said, 'you just choked up yourself here. Change the direction of the gate.'
"If you get to that police station, you will see one top security post. They use ladder to climb and then they will remove the ladder to watch. That day (Thursday), nobody was there even to watch what was happening. If you enter that police station, it has only one main gate. There is no exit. They just choked themselves with all the shops. There is only small gate at the back leading inside the market which will make it difficult for people and police officers to run away in the event of crisis.
"We have to give better orientation. These are young boys between 18 and 22 years. They need a lot of orientation from the school and the community. Community policing is very important so that if anybody comes in here, I can immediately know if he is or not from Offa."
My husband told me to prepare a delicious food, but he couldn’t eat it –Wife of killed vigilance man
"We are devastated, he was all that we had,” was the outburst of the two wives of a member of the Association of Unity Vigilantes, Offa Unity Headquarters, Kwara State, Ismaila Jimoh.
Late Jimoh's first wife, Tawa (22) and her three children, Jamiu (9), Aishat (7) and Rufuyat (5); and his second wife, Rufuyat and her son, Mulikat, wept uncontrollably as they shared their pain with Saturday PUNCH.
Having lost their breadwinner, they lamented that their future appeared bleak while there seemed to be no hope for the education of their children, who are still in nursery and primary schools.
Tawa said her husband had left home on that fateful Thursday and told her to prepare him a delicious food, unknown to her that he would not live to eat the food.
She said, "My husband told me that he was coming back and that I should prepare food for him, that he would soon be around. That was the last time I saw him. I have three children, and the second wife has one. The children attend Ansaru Islamia Primary School. His death has started affecting the family. My husband was the only one that I had. My hope in life is almost gone. Whatever people have to assist us, they should kindly do it."
Rufuyat also said she had been devastated by the unexpected demise of her husband.
Late Jimoh's 65-year-old father, Kasali, said the death of his son was painful to him, adding that he had yet to recover from the shock. He stated that his major challenge now was the education of his grandchildren.
He said, "I am really opting for these children to have education. Whatever people can do to help the children, I am ready to take it. The government is the one that can assist to prevent a recurrence of this robbery."
The deceased's 45-year-old mother, Mulikat, described Jimoh's death as an untold tragedy in her life.
Jimoh's colleague, Mohammed Ajibade, said the deceased vigilance man was in their office when they heard that robbers were attacking some people and robbing banks in Offa.
He stated that Jimoh, fired up, quickly ran to the nearest bank that was being attacked to rescue the victims.
He added that one of the robbers, on sighting Jimoh, shot him to death.
'We need better security'
A former General Secretary of the National Democratic Coalition, who is an indigene of Offa, Mr. Ayo Opadokun, lamented that the security architecture of the town, which he described as the second most commercially endowed community in Kwara State, must be reconfigured in such a way that there would be enough presence of active security agencies, including the police, the military and the like.
He said that the robbery attacks exposed the underbelly of what he called the gross inefficiency of actionable intelligence in Nigeria generally and in Offa in particular, especially at this time.
He said, "If there was actionable intelligence, those ragamuffins would not have had the audacity to drop their own vehicles somewhere, mingled with the people, killing and spilling blood. They just seized vehicles with which they carried the money they stole and went through Igbosun, abandoned some of those vehicles, and entered their own again.
"It is equally true that the Nigerian security, if there is any, ought to create a very diligent, long lasting presence in Offa among these various platforms namely, okada riders (commercial motorcyclists), road transport workers, policemen, security agencies and security officers who work in commercial and microfinance banks. There must be agents who are conniving and conspiring with these violent elements who are so ungodly as to take life out of innocent souls who were going to pick their few pennies through their credit cards.
"There was no basis for killing people who were on the line using their ATM card. What did those ones do bad against them? But they killed as many of those ones also. It is the most horrendous thing and this is the fourth time it would happen in Offa.
"The Nigerian State and the Kwara State government ought to bring about quick response that will be manifest, clear to all and sundry, to reassure and give confidence to the financial institutions that there will not be the probability of a recurrence of such a dastardly act."
Likewise, prominent Kwara State indigenes and groups have been lamenting the loss of lives and property and commiserating with the state government; the Olofa of Offa, Oba Mufutau Gbadamosi; the residents, especially the families of murdered and injured police officers and residents.
They have also called for improvement in the security situation in Offa, Kwara State and Nigeria in general.
They include a former governorship aspirant in the state, Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq; the Kwara State chapter of the Labour Party; and the Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union.
Abdulrazaq urged the Kwara State government to provide effective and complementary support to the Nigerian Police Force to enhance security statewide and protect the lives and property of people.
He also enjoined the Nigerian Police to work assiduously in order to bring the perpetrators of the horrific act to justice in record time.
The acting state Chairman of LP, Mr. Abdulmumini Onagun, and the acting state secretary, Mr. Rotimi Ajiboye, in a statement said the attacks were another rude reminder of the urgent need to secure lives and property in Nigeria.
The statement said, "LP shares the grief of the victims. We hereby call on the Nigeria Police Force to ensure the arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators. Labour Party also demands adequate compensation for the victims of the robbery attack, including policemen. Our security agencies must be well-equipped to effectively combat criminals in the country."
The National President of IEDPU, Ambassador Usman AbdulAzeez, urged the Federal Government to provide more security gadgets and improved surveillance in Kwara State to curb cases of bank robbery and other criminal activities in all parts of the state.
AbdulAzeez, who is a retired diplomat and security expert, noted that the security operatives in the state lacked sophisticated equipment that could adequately counter any serious security challenge, such as the one experienced in Offa last Thursday.
He appealed to the Federal Government to provide more sophisticated security gadgets to the state with qualified and trained manpower that will adequately curb cases of bank robbery and other security challenges in the state.
The Olofa, who lamented that the recent robbery made it the fourth armed robbery attack in Offa community within a decade, said the robbery attacks were sad.
He called for the deployment of more policemen and the strengthening of security in the community.
Our correspondent who was at the Divisional Police Station in Offa on Monday observed that a team from the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, visited the station for assessment.
The team was led by Mr. Abba Kyari, who heads the Intelligence Response Team of the Nigeria Police Force.
The police team was conducted round the police station by the Divisional Police Officer in charge of Offa Divisional Police Station.
Our correspondent observed that the police station building was riddled with holes by the bullets used by the armed bandits during the operation.
The IG was also reported to have dispatched three units of riot policemen and a high-powered investigation team to Kwara State.
He was also said to have deployed an armoured personnel carrier with 10 crew members and anti-robbery equipment.
The Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah, not only offered N5m to credible informants that could provide information leading to the arrest of the robbers, but also promised to build a new police station at a strategic position in Offa within the next 45 days from April 10.