Photos: FESTAC BANK ROBBERY – COMPLETE STORY

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Details have emerged on how a one and half year old baby, Mmesoma Ndirika and her mother, Jane Ebele were killed in their flat by the stray bullets of heavily armed robbers who stormed three banks, namely; Diamond bank and Access bank, and First City Monument Bank, FCMB, all on 4th Avenue and carted away sacks of money in naira and dollar denominations.

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During the operation which lasted hours, a two-year-old toddler, Mmesoma Ndirika, and her mother, Jane, who were inside their apartment in an adjoining building, were reportedly hit by stray bullets from the bandits who were shooting sporadically in all directions.

The robbers, numbering about 40, operated for over two hours during which they raided the banks unrestrained and left through the canal that runs through Festac from the Lagoon in a speedboats.

While the banks are counting their losses, the family of Mr. Peter Ndirika whose apartment was a distance from the scene of the incident remains in shock and sorrow as a result of stray bullets that hit and killed his one and a half year old baby and his wife.

Reports said both mother and child later died as a result of injuries they sustained from the bullet. A commercial motorcyclist who was also hit by stray bullets reportedly died later in an undisclosed private hospital.

Ndirika reportedly worked at Alimosho Local Government as a nurse and was preparing to go for her afternoon duty when the unfortunate incident happened. Ndirika’s neighbour, Mrs Uju Darlington, narrated the deceased’s last minutes thus: “We were all at home when the shootings started and so, we all ran for cover and immediately shut the door and laid down on the floor as a safety measure.

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“But, while lying down on the floor, the woman heard the voice of her baby who was in the room, so, she quickly went into the room to comfort her. As she was cuddling her baby, in less than a minute, the woman just screamed and threw the baby on the bed. As she screamed, there was a flash of fire in the house.

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“Everyone in the house ran to her rescue and the woman started shouting ‘please help me fast, please help me fast, oh God I’m dying o I’m dying’. The woman was in pains and in the pool of her own blood.

“By the time paramedics arrived to administer First Aid, they discovered a deep cut on her shoulders and her chest, which suggested that the bullet ripped her chest to get to her shoulders.

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“Amidst the pandemonium, and since the shootings were still on going there was no way that they could rush the woman to the hospital. First aid was performed on her with a dressing on the wound and covering. We waited while the shootings continued for another one hour and, at this point, the baby was no longer crying but was in the pool of her own blood.

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However, when the dust settled, a neighbour, identified as Irabor Sunday, reportedly rushed them to Mother and Child Hospital at the First Gate in Festac where they were confirmed dead. The baby was, thereafter, taken back to the house while her mother was rushed to Lord’s Chosen Church where a prayer session was organised for her revival. Vanguard gathered that at 3pm, her corpse was taken to Igando General Hospital mortuary where she worked as a nurse.

It was learnt that the robbers gained entry to the banks by blowing up the entrance security doors with dynamite while the sound of the explosion sent panic round the vicinity. Thereafter, it was two hours of chaos, fear, panic and pains. After robbing and looting the vault of two banks, they stormed the third bank in the vicinity.

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The robbers eventually succeeded in carting away cash in foreign and local currencies in Ghana must go bags. Some eyewitnesses said while the robbers fled the scene, some bundles of dollar notes and naira fell from the Ghana-must-go bags.

As the robbers shot into in the air, there was response from some members of the Odua Peoples Congress (OPC) which temporarily destabilised the robbers and later infuriated them as a result of which they shot sporadically into the air and in different directions as a form of defence. It was in the process that the two victims, baby and mum who was peeping from her flat window got hit by stray bullets. Some residents said the woman was deliberately shot by the robbers who suspected she might be recording their operation with her phone camera.

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It took the Police more than one and half hours to respond.

In his own account of what happened, Area E police commander,Frank Mba, said that, “at about 8.25, the Command received information of sporadic shooting along 4th Avenue. A joint team of policemen from Area E and FESTAC Division promptly responded to the incident.

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“On arrival, the policemen engaged the robbers numbering over 40 all in military camouflage and armed to the teeth in a fierce gun battle. Notwithstanding the numerical disadvantage of the police strength at the beginning of the operation, the hot exchange of fire forced the robbers who were simultaneously robbing two banks to abandon the operation.

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“The police action equally forced the robbers to abandon N27,715,921.74k, which was later recovered by the police and transferred under armed escort safe keeping in another bank. Police actions also forced the armed robbers to abandon 240 rounds of 7.62mm live ammunition. The robbers later retreated to the water front from where they fled using speed boats. Scene of crime has been condoned off while investigating since commenced.”

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