Uromi Bank Raids: Onobun, Edo Assembly Speaker Suspects Complicity by Security Agents

Marcus Onobun

…Blames incident on lack of intelligence

Still smarting from the brazen bank robberies in Uromi, Esan North East Local government area of Edo State in which seven people were killed – five civilians and two policemen – and millions of naira carted away, the speaker of Edo State House of Assembly, Marcus Onobun, may be suspecting complicity of security agencies in the daring escapades of the unmasked bandits said to have numbered about 20.

Onobun, who was still visibly shell-shocked at Thursday’s day-light robbery of five banks in an area he described as one of the most populous local governments in Edo Central senatorial district, wondered how “such an incident could be carried out without any formal intelligence to the various security agencies…”. Though the state police spokesman listed four banks as having been raided – Zenith Bank, UBA, First Bank, and Union Bank, a viral video showed that Fidelity Bank was also attacked.

The speaker, who was guest on TVC News all-female breakfast show, ‘Your View’ on Friday monitored by TELL, said he did not think “that such an action was just planned overnight because you have these criminals numbering over 20 with various vehicles and all sophisticated weapons and all of that”. Describing the incident as “unfortunate and so scary”, Onobun, who said he and the deputy governor, Philip Shaibu, would be visiting the scene later today to get first-hand information as to what really happened, and how to curtail future occurrence, stated that “There are so many questions that are begging for answers to know who those who conspired to see that this attempt to raid the people was successful; we also need to know how those people got into town that the security agencies were unable to pick on them, and they drove freely, and all of that. So, these are questions that are begging for answers”.

According to him, “What happened yesterday came to us as a rude shock. It’s what one could best describe as an invasion. And with what we have seen, the pictorial evidence and some videos that have been around on social media, it’s quite unfortunate, and I want to first commiserate with the families of those who lost their lives – the people of the community, as well as staff of the various financial institutions that were affected”.

On the failure of security agencies to forestall robberies, the speaker said though they were yet to be properly briefed about what happened, “but from what we saw yesterday, you could see that the security were overwhelmed”, adding that the location of the financial institutions and the area is quite porous “because we have boundary with Delta State, and of course, there are some other routes to some riverine areas; the Illushi where you have the River Niger”. He however stated that what should be paramount now was talking about how to forestall future occurrence of this incidence, stressing that the government at all levels, whether local, state, or even federal government, “have to take some decisive steps to see that issues like this don’t happen because with what happened yesterday, I can tell you that no one is safe anywhere”.

On investigations being done to ensure the arrest and prosecution of the criminals, Onobun expressed confidence that the bandits would be tracked down and brought to book. He said it was comforting that there were pictorial and video evidences showing what actually transpired. “And like I said, we’ll be visiting the scene this afternoon to get first-hand information as well as meeting with the security agencies; those who were on ground, and to get eyewitness report as to what happened. I want to believe, with what we have in place, the security architecture that had been set up by the state, even though the incident has happened, it’s unfortunate. But we would be able to track these people down as well as bringing them to justice.

“So, that these people would be caught is no doubt at all. But you can’t even have such a number coming to carry out a criminal act and you will not be able to track them. It may be a matter of time, but I can assure you that these people, in no distant time, they will be caught.

On why the attack on one of the banks that was located very near a police station could not be repelled, and questioning the preparedness of the force for such eventuality, the speaker noted that Uromi, being one of the most populous in the affected local government, has a standard police station, “so we expect that they have all the required equipment”. He was however quick to add that “From what we were told, I have not confirmed, the police station was also attacked. So, these are part of the investigation that the security agencies have to carry out. And like I said, an investigation will commence in no time, and within the next few days, I’m sure that we’ll come out with a report that will actually show; because from what we have on ground, we don’t expect that kind of a thing to happen within that area at all”.

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