27th June, 2012
By Ben Adaji/ Wukari with agency report
Residents of Wukari in Taraba had a sleepless night on Tuesday, as gunmen suspected to be armed robbers blew up three commercial banks in the town and carted away large sums of money.
AFP also reports that a police station was also hit during the raid.
The Police Commissioner in Taraba, Alhaji Ibrahim Maishanu, who confirmed the robbery in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Jalingo on Wednesday, said the operation lasted for three hours.
Maishanu confirmed that three persons- an inspector and two civilians, died in a gun battle between the police and the suspected armed robbers.
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Amos Olaoye, in a statement issued in Jalingo on Wednesday said three banks, the Divisional Police Headquarters and Area Command, were attacked by the robbers who used large quantities of explosives.
It said the robbers, numbering about 30, were repelled by the police on guard as they attempted to gain access to the armoury, adding that no arm was removed during the simultaneous attacks.
The command assured the public that steps had been taken to restore normalcy in Wukari and its environs.
It urged the public to volunteer information that could lead to the arrest of the bandits. (NAN)
Earlier today, the police commissioner said the three banks raided by the gunmen were two new generation banks and one old generation bank in the attacks which took place on Tuesday between 9 p.m. and 12 midnight.
The commissioner said the police had commenced investigation into the raid on the banks, adding that details of the investigation would be made available to journalists later.
Mr Danazumi Agbu, the Chairman, Wukari Local Government Council, who also spoke to NAN on telephone, confirmed that explosives and gun shots were heard from the direction of the banks late in the night.
He said that the sound threw the residents, who thought Boko Haram gunmen had invaded their area, into panic.
Agbu said the area was now calm and people had started coming out to go about their daily businesses.
Miss Naomi Nanjo, a resident of the area, told NAN that she and several families spent their night inside the bush because they suspected the incident to be an invasion by Boko Haram.
“We returned to our houses at about 5 a.m. after confirming that they were thieves and not Boko Haram,” Naomi said.
After the operation, they escaped in different directions. The securitymen at the Wukari Local Government area alerted their colleagues along the road leading to Ibi Local government area.
At Gidiwaya village in the area, the police with the youths of the village mounted a heavy road block and when the robbers ran into the road block and couldnt find their way, they set the vehicle they were travelling in ablaze and escaped into the bush.
The soldiers from Wukari trailed them into the bush and arrested two of them. The solders are still searching for other fleeing men of the gang.
Gunmen also attacked some police stations in Kano, northwest Nigeria overnight, sparking battles that left at least four dead in the latest unrest in areas wracked by Islamist and ethnic violence, police said Wednesday.
Two police stations were hit in the northern city of Kano on Tuesday night, while a third was targeted in Damaturu in the country’s northeast. A fourth was attacked overnight in Wukari in eastern Taraba state.
In Kano, the Dala police station in the Goron Dutse area came under attack, police said. Residents also reported explosions followed by gunfire between police and attackers around the Panshekara station on the outskirts of the city.
“We are still trying to compile details of what happened at the (Goron Dutse) police station,” police spokesman Rilwanu Dutse said. “What is certain is that the police station came under bomb and gun attacks.”
A police officer who was involved in the shootout said three attackers and a police corporal were killed, while another policeman was wounded. He said there were about 30 attackers.
An AFP journalist heard five explosions coming from the direction of the Goran Dutse station and saw smoke rising Tuesday evening. The explosions later halted from that attack and no one immediately claimed them.
Boko Haram members tend to throw small, homemade IEDs in such attacks.
Details were not clear from the Panshekara station. Police had not officially commented, but a police source confirmed the attack.
Kano, Nigeria’s second city and the largest in the north, was the site of Boko Haram’s deadliest attack yet, when coordinated bombings and shootings left at least 185 people dead in January.
The Islamist group’s insurgency, concentrated in Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north, has killed more than 1,000 people since mid-2009.
Security forces have frequently been the victims of its attacks, though it has continually widened its targets.
It has recently taken to attacking churches on Sundays, leading to deadly reprisal violence from Christian mobs in the city of Kaduna earlier this month and sparking fears of wider unrest.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and largest oil producer, is roughly divided between a mainly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south.
On Sunday, President Goodluck Jonathan said Boko Haram was seeking to incite a religious crisis by attacking churches in an attempt to destabilise the government.
Jonathan, who has come under heavy criticism in recent days over the spiralling violence, described how the group had moved from targeting local rivals to government institutions and now churches.
On Friday, he fired his national security adviser and defence minister.
There have been growing warnings that there could be more cases of residents taking the law into their own hands if something is not done to halt Boko Haram’s attacks.
The group initially said it was fighting for the creation of an Islamic state, but its demands have since shifted repeatedly. It is believed to have a number of factions, including a main Islamist wing.
Many say deep poverty and frustration in the north have been main factors in creating the insurgency.
The United States on Thursday said it had designated the head of the main branch of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, a “global terrorist” along with two others tied to both Boko Haram and Al-Qaeda’s north African franchise AQIM.