A mother and her two year- old daughter were killed on Tuesday in Lagos after robbers blew up two banks with dynamites, carting away millions of naira.
Ebele Peters and her daughter died after a stray bullet from the robbers who wore military camouflage, and numbering over 40, stormed the branches of Diamond Bank and a new generation bank in FESTAC area of Lagos.
Many people were said to have sustained injuries from flying bullets.
Doctors at an undisclosed hospital were said to be battling to save one of the victims who was hit by bullets while he was inside the restroom in his home. Peters and her daughter were said to have been hit by bullets in their flat.
The robbers stormed the two banks simultaneously, moments after they opened for business for the day and allegedly carted away millions of naira stuffed in bags.
A security guard attached to one of the companies in the area said the robbery lasted over 45 minutes.
“They came through the FESTAC canal in flying boats. The banks are behind the canal. They were over 30. The robbers divided themselves. Some were dispatched to the 23 Road, others to each of the entrance to the block of flats where residents live. The rest blocked the last bus stop; while others blew open the banks’ security gates.
“They were well coordinated and fearless. Throughout the robbery period, they didn’t stop shooting. The guns sounded like they were dropping explosives. It was when they were spraying bullets haphazardly that the woman and her baby were killed right inside their flat.”
Another resident said the robbers went from one bank to the next, dragging heaps of cash loaded in bags.
“This avenue is a very busy one. We thank God that not many people were killed. It happened when children were going to school. If someone in her apartment was killed by stray bullets, what about those on the roads?”
According to another resident, after the operation, the robbers snatched a car belonging to a man going to work and escaped with it, others escaped in the three boats kept at the bank of the canal.
Confirming the incident, Area E Commander, FESTAC Area Command, Frank Mba, said in a statement that a joint police force promptly responded to radio messages on the robbery attack and forced the robbers to retreat.
According him, while fleeing, the bandits left behind N27, 715.921.71 and some live ammunition, adding that “The police engaged the robbers, numbering over 40; all dressed in military camouflage uniforms and armed to the teeth, in a gunbattle. The exchange forced the robbers to abandon their robbery operation.
“The police forced them to abandon N27, 715,921.71, which was later recovered by the police and transferred to another branch of Diamond Bank located at 2nd avenue in FESTAC.” Mbah also said the police forced the robbers to abandon 240 rounds of 7.62 mm live ammunition.
Mba, who briefed newsmen on the incident, said the command received information about the robbery at about 8.25a.m, adding that the police have commenced investigations so that the suspects would be rounded up in time.
“Investigation has since commenced and the CP has vowed to do everything humanly and operationally possible to ensure that the perpetrators of this criminal act are rounded up within the shortest possible time and brought to book.
“Within the two banks, nobody died but someone sustained injury at Diamond Bank and the person is responding very well to treatment. On the part of the law enforcement agencies, no injuries, no death recorded.
“We are working on the report of the two-year-old baby that got shot. We heard that as well. We are trying to liaise with the community to locate and deal with the incident.
“Preliminary information shows that they (robbers) came through the waterways and equally exited through the waterways,” he said.
He, however, added that the Marine Police had been actively involved in curtailing the activities of the hoodlums and pointed out the challenges.
“Their operations spread across every part of the state where there are waterways from Badagary to Epe, Lagos-Island, Oworonsoki, Ikorodu and up to Festac.
“But you must equally understand that depending on the size of the boat of the Marine Police, there are some waterways that are still inaccessible.
“There are some waterways which the boat of the Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Police cannot access if the waterway is not big enough to carry those operational boats.
“I want to reassure you that there are ongoing massive operations to block all waterways in Lagos and that operation by God’s grace will be extended to Festac,” he said.