Features

Blow-by-blow account of Lekki (Lagos) daylight robbery

Lekki-Road

Fish hawker’s family speak about their pains

‘They should have killed me instead’-Aunt (Omolafe Ibikunle)

‘Sarah’s ghost will haunt her killers’-Uncle (Gbenga Ibikunle)

‘She’s a promising Primary 3 pupil’-Head teacher (Stephen Ogungbulugbe)

Police promise to fish out robbers soon

+ All the graphic details of the Thursday, March 12 tragedy

 

Police patrol car

Police patrol car

The armed robbery of Thursday, March 12, 2015, on Admiralty Way, Lekki Peninsular Scheme 1, Victoria Island, Lagos, still lingers in the memories of Lagosians, especially residents of the area.

ENCOMIUM Weekly’s visit to the scene of the tragic incident on Saturday, March 14, 2015, revealed that the people in the vicinity still live in palpable fear despite the fact that calm has returned after the dastardly act.

Some of the residents ENCOMIUM Weekly spoke to gave a vivid account of how the deadly armed robbers unleashed terror on the area, attacking a branch of First City Monument Bank, FCMB, on Admiralty Way, leaving three policemen and a teenage fish hawker dead.

According to a motorcyclist (okada rider), Mallam Ahmed Yisa, “When the robbers suddenly took over the

The vault

The vault

streets, everybody started scampering for safety. I abandoned my motorcycle. When I saw them in army uniform, I thought they were soldiers  on  legitimate duty. But few minutes after their arrival, they started shooting sporadically. They entered the bank, breaking the glasses of the entrance. I went into hiding in one of the nearby buildings, watching how they were shooting. A lot of motorists abandoned their vehicles and ran away. We all later came back to pick our vehicles. Those armed robbers really terrorized the area. They were there for almost an hour. The policemen on routine patrol were just unlucky, because immediately the robbers sighted them, they thought they were after them. That’s why they opened fire on them, killing three, leaving few others injured. It was like we were in a war front.”

 

‘I was just lucky’ -GEORGE IBE

“I was inside this complex when the armed robbers came. They were about 10 and fully armed. They wore army camouflage. About two or three of them were on the other side of the road shooting in the air to scare everybody, including passers-by.  I think I was just lucky because not up to five minutes I drove in that they stormed the area, went into the bank straight and started breaking everything breakable including the ATM box. They came in at about 4:30pm and left around some minutes after 5pm.

“That’s my first time of witnessing that kind of armed robbery. They were so confident that they stood in the middle of the road in day light while some of their colleagues entered the bank. I learnt they carted away millions of naira, but none of the bank staffers was killed nor injured. The little girl hawking fish was hit by a stray bullet a few metres away. She was hit on the head and died. The police were caught unawares and they were over-powered by the armed robbers, leaving three of them dead. It was later some policemen came, but they had left. We all came out at around 5:30pm discussing the issue. Even up till now, we’re living in fear.”

 

‘We locked all the doors’ -OLAYEMI SAMUEL

“I work in this place. I was inside when I heard gunshots. Before I knew it, I saw people running for safety. A lot of people abandoned their vehicles on the road, causing vehicular traffic. I had to stay indoors, watching them through the window. We locked all the doors because no one knew their mission. The sporadic gun shots lasted about 30 minutes. It was like a horror film. No one could say this was how and where the robbers came into the area. What we later gathered was that they came in through the waterway in a speed boat. No one knew their exact number but they were many, including a woman. And they were all dressed in army camouflage to deceive people. The police just stumbled on them when they were on patrol. And immediately the robbers saw the police, they engaged them in a shoot-out which lasted some minutes. I am sure some of the armed robbers also sustained bullet wounds, but they succeeded in killing three policemen.”

 

Another witness who simply addressed himself as Mr. John said, “I just parked my car at a filling station when I started hearing heavy gun shots. On looking up, I saw they were armed robbers. It was like a war situation. You don’t need to be told before you know something strange was happening. The atmosphere was heated up by pandemonium. People, including pedestrians and shop owners, were running helter-skelter. A lot of motorists took one way to escape the attack while some even left their vehicles and came back the next day to pick them. It’s better imagined than experienced.”

 

‘She was a very nice person’-KEMI OKUNNUWA, cousin

We learnt you’re very close to Sarah and both of you used to hawk fish together. How do you feel about her

KEMI OKUNNUWA

KEMI OKUNNUWA

tragic death?

I feel bad and sad. It was a bad incident. I never expected she would die this soon. We were so close. We used to sleep in the same place, did a lot of things together.

Can you tell us what you discussed last before her death?

We discussed a lot. We used to do contribution. And when we saved enough money, we would go to Ajah to buy clothes.

What would you be remembering her for?

A lot! I can’t forget Sarah. She was my partner apart from being my cousin. She wasn’t supposed to die now. It’s a great loss to me.

We learnt you didn’t go with her that day, why?

It’s because we didn’t have much to sell. And she decided to go to town with the little fish we had while I stayed back at home, helping our mother with domestic chores. Not knowing that would be the last time I would see her. It’s painful.

How old are you?

I am 18.

How would you describe Sarah briefly?

She was a very nice person. That’s why we’re so close.

 

‘She’s a promising Primary 3 pupil’

Stephen Ogungbulugbe

Stephen Ogungbulugbe

-Head teacher (Stephen Ogungbulugbe)

We commiserate with you on the death of one of your pupils, Sarah Ibikunle.

Thank you so much, Sir.

How did you react to the news of her demise?

It’s a rude shock. It’s a very sad piece of news, not expected at all because she wasn’t ill. Sarah’s death really saddened my heart. I just finished talking to the pupils about her. It’s a tragic occurrence. May God give the family the fortitude to bear the loss.

How would you describe her?

Sarah was a very decent child. She was quiet and obedient.

How was she doing academically?

The school building

The school building

She was an average pupil but very promising.

What would you miss about her?

Sarah’s death was a great loss to the school and the community. She was one of the fortunate pupils. She was promising and seeing her, you don’t need to be told that she would have been one of the future leaders. She had a sterling ambition and was very hard working.

We were told she said she wanted to become a lawyer?

Yes, she was one of the future leaders as I said. She actually wanted to be a lawyer. That was her ambition but that was cut short by her killers. It’s painful.

We were told the school has not visited the family since the incident, why?

Yes, we have a plan to go to her house today but we just received a set of inspectors on their routine inspection. And that’s what we have been waiting for. But surely we will visit the family today.

We learnt she was in primary 3, despite her age?

Yes, she was in primary three. They were about 60 in the class. All I know is that Sarah was good enough to become somebody tomorrow because she had the potentials. She would be missed. It’s painful losing her so young.

 

‘They should have killed me instead’ -Aunt (Omolafe Ibikunle)

We commiserate with you on the death of your niece, Sarah Ibikunle.

Omolafe Ibikunle

Omolafe Ibikunle

Thank you.

How would you describe her death?

Her death was a very painful thing to me. I am still in shock. I am yet to get to terms with the incident. I feel very sad about it. Had it been she was ill and she died, that would have been a different thing entirely. But she wasn’t, she went in search of our daily bread but unfortunately she was consumed by death. It’s so unfortunate losing Sarah in that kind of circumstance. Her death was so painful that it’s like I should die instead but death rejected me. But if I see death now, I will die.

What did you discuss with her shortly before her death?

That was on Wednesday. She told me about the assignment her teacher gave her. She explained to me that it was about her ambition, that she wanted to become a lawyer. And she drew the picture of a lawyer in a cardboard and now showed me.

Did you also see her becoming that in future?

Yes, anytime she came back from school, she loved reading her books. And I blessed her so far that was what she wanted for herself.

How old exactly was Sarah?

She was 15.

What class?

She was in primary 3.

Why?

It’s because she has not been attending school before I brought her home to Lagos.

When was she brought to Lagos?

That was about four years ago.

We learnt her father passed on some years ago?

Yes, that was why I decided to take care of her. Not knowing she would die young.

Has the school visited you since the incident?

No, nobody has come from the school.

What about her siblings?

Yes, she had an elderly sister, who is 18 and a younger brother.

It’s only Sarah that was living with you among them?

Yes, the rest are not with me.

 We read from one of the dailies that the mortuary where Sarah’s corpse was deposited demanded N100,000. What do you want the government to do about that?

We called a police officer, and he went to the police station to report the matter but they told him that the girl was shot by armed robbers, not the police. They said they only helped in taking her body to the mortuary, Yaba, Lagos. They now advised we should go and claim the corpse. But when our people got there, they told them to pay N100,000 for mortuary services, casket and burial. And there is no how we can raise the money. Yesterday, some people called me on phone but I told them if they can help me to raise the money. And if the government can as well come to our aid, we will appreciate it. But when the man comes back, I will then know if there is anything coming from his side. But as at this moment, we haven’t raised anything. You can see the situation we are now.

What’s your word to the government concerning the killers of Sarah?

Just as I said, Sarah’s death was a big blow to me and I can’t forget her forever. If the government can help, fine. If not, fine as well.

I leave everything to God. But as for the killers, anytime they’re arrested, they should be killed because they have killed my daughter and they must die. And I even believe that her ghost won’t allow them to rest.

How old are you?

I am 45.

Where are you from?

I am from Ilaje, Ondo state.

What else do you do apart from fish trade?    

No, I don’t do any other thing. I have been a fish seller all my life.

 

‘Sarah’s ghost will haunt her killers’ -Uncle (Gbenga Ibikunle)

Gbenga Ibikunle

Gbenga Ibikunle

Who are you to Sarah?

She was like a daughter to me.

How do you feel about her death?

I feel bad and sad about it. It was a surprise to all of us that Sarah left home to hawk fish as usual but met a tragic death. It’s so sad.

How did you receive the news of her death?

I received it as a rude shock. I couldn’t believe she was the one they were talking about. When she came back from school, she rested for a while before proceeding to town to hawk. Then, we received a call that there was a fight between two political parties along that route but nobody told us they were shooting or some people had been killed.

Later, they called that a child hawking kerosene was killed. We didn’t know it was a fish hawker that was shot, which happened to be Sarah. It was a great shock. When I got there, I found it so but they told me the police had taken the corpse to Moroko Police Station. But when we got there, they told us they had taken her to the mortuary. I thought it was around here, not knowing it’s Yaba. Then, we got to Yaba, we saw Sarah’s corpse, not even taken care of. They just put her in one truck. She had started swelling up. We were told to pay some money before the corpse could be taken to the mortuary. In fact, the amount we’re asked to pay was even more than N100,000. We started arguing with them that those that killed Sarah also dressed as soldiers. The police that also engaged them in a shootout were also in government uniforms. So, how do we differentiate? All I know is that the ghost of our daughter will haunt her killers.

How would you describe Sarah?

Sarah was so good and anything she was asked to do, she would do. She would quickly do it. She was obedient and hard working. So bad that we lost her. We’re only appealing to the police and the government to ensure the killers are arrested and prosecuted accordingly.

 

ENCOMIUM Weekly also visited Lekki Phase 1 Police Station to ascertain the identities of the slain police officers. The officer

late Sarah Ibikunle

late Sarah Ibikunle

we met simply identified himself as Sergeant Opeyemi. He told us he was not in the right position to comment on the issue. He therefore directed us to Divisional Police Officer, Maroko (Victoria Island, Lagos).

On Saturday, March 14, 2015, we also visited Maroko Police Station, where the  Divisional Police Officer, CSP, Ibrahim Adams confirmed the incident. But he declined comment on the identities of the murdered officers.

He, however, directed us to the State Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO,  Kenneth Nwosu who said, “Yes, the incident happened and three of our men were killed and a fish hawker.

“We’re still investigating the matter. The Commissioner of Police, CP Kayode Aderanti has directed men of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) to be on the search for the criminals. They have been instructed to launch a massive manhunt for the hoodlums.

“Also, we’re appealing to the people that should they see anybody treating bullet wounds should please inform the police because some of the armed robbers also escaped with bullet wounds. Our men inflicted gun shots wounds on the robbers. We appeal to medical doctors and hospital owners, especially.”

Asked to disclose the identities of the unfortunate officers, he said, “I can only tell you their ranks, not names. We had an inspector among them, the rest two are Non Commission Officers (NCO). The only civilian among them was the little girl, Sarah

entrance of the bank

entrance of the bank

Ibikunle.”

When we contacted FCMB’s spokesperson, Mr. Louis Ibe on Monday, March 16, 2015, on the incident, he promised to get back to us before the week runs out.

 

– TADE ASIFAT

Related Stories:

Comments

comments

About the Author