The Nigeria police have foiled an attempt to rob a commercial bank in the economic capital city of Lagos, killing four and arresting five members of an 18-member gang in what analysts described as a big break for the police in the incessant bank robbery cases in the country.
Lagos Police Commissioner, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, said six AK-47 rifles, some of them snatched from policemen who were earlier gunned down during different robbery incidents, were recovered from the robbers.
”These people are heartless. They even use police rifles,” Abubakar told journalists.
The robbers met their waterloo through the cooperation between the police and members of the public, who gave information on the robbers’ attempt to rob a bank at Iyana Ipaja, on the outskirts of the city.
According to eyewitness accounts, the robbers arrived at the bank around 11 am Thursday and started shooting sporadically to scare away passers-by – a strategy that works well in highly-populated city of Lagos where residents usually scamper for safety at the slightest noise.
As the robbers fired the high-calibre weapon ceaselessly, a hapless bricklayer atop the roof of a nearby uncompleted building was gunned down while a man said to be an innocent by-stander was shot in the stomach.
But luck ran out for the robbers as crack police officers from different stations arrived at the scene and battled with the robbers until they were dislodged from the bank, their guns seized and the millions of money in naira, which they had squirrelled out of the bank, were recovered.
The rare police victory against bank robbers in Lagos triggered a massive jubilation among residents in the area, and boosted the morale of policemen who swaggered around the robbery scene in triumph.
In recent times, armed robbers have targeted banks in the city and elsewhere around the country, but in most cases, the police only arrived hours after the robbers would have escaped with their loot.
As the robbers became emboldened, they started carrying out the robberies during day time.
But analysts said the rare success recorded against the robbers on Thursday could be a deterrent to the rampaging robbers while also showing the police they could tackle the robbers.
Local newspapers Friday carried pictured of one of the arrested robbers in handcuffs, among other pictures taken at the crime scene. Panapress.