By Maria Famakinwa &
The people of Ilara-Mokin in Ifedore Local Government area of Ondo State are yet to recover from last week bank robbery fiasco where three people including a popular journalist, Olubunmi Afuye lost their lives.
When The Hope reporters visited the town, the expression on residents faces was that of fear, anxiety and grief. Some of them who were able to muster courage said that they were yet to come to terms with the reality as some shops around the bank were still under lock and key.
In the words of Alara of Ilara-Mokin, Oba Abiodun Aderemi Adefehinti, who also condemned the robbery attack lamented that the town has porus entry and exit points and called on the State government for assistance.
The Oba who explained that the distance of the town to the highway is about two kilometres, appealed to the State government to put in place another police station for proper security of the town and its environs.
He also solicited for a check point maned by soldiers at the exit point of the town in order to guarantee safety of lives and property.
On what he is doing to secure the lives of his subjects said,” we have an association called Egbe Omo Ilara who already are looking into forming local vigilante to boost the security of the area.”
The Alara while condemning the loss of lives commiserated with the families of those who lost their lives in the attack and prayed to God to grant the departed souls eternal rest.
Speaking on the sad incident, High Chief Sajowa of Ilara-Mokin, Ado Ajayi, who revealed that the residents have been in palpable fear since the robbery lamented the loss of lives and said, “We are not happy with the incident, because something like this had never happened before, those who were killed during the robbery attack it was a painful way to die. I don’t think policemen are the right officers to man banks. Instead, military personnel should be deployed to banks especially those that are not located in the city.
“I don’t think that the police have what it takes to handle situation like bank robbery. I am saying this because when the robbery operation was on going, we called the police, instead of going there to confront the robbers, they took to their heels through the back door to the other street. I saw them personally while they were running. Even if the bank re-open, people will be scared to patronize them,” he said.
He appealed to the State government to provide able hands that can secure citizens lives and property adding that the bank that was attacked was the major bank they have in the area except the one at Elizade which was not convenient because of the distance, he said,” we are appealing to the government to come to our aid, because that’s the major bank we have. We have hope in God that those who carried out the deadly attack would soon be brought to book. Even the Monarch of Ilara-Mokin had offered prayers to the gods, so that the thieves could be caught.”
Also Chief Elemo of Ilara-Mokin, Solomon Falaye, who stated that he escaped being killed by whiskers said,“we had a meeting at the palace that day, just immediately after we left the meeting and I got home, I started hearing gun shots, it was God that saved me, because I would have been caught in the cross fire. I called my friend who was close to the bank premises to find out what was happening and he told me that the bank was under attack. Nobody envisaged that such a calamity would befall the residents of Ilara-Mokin. “
Chief Elemo who said that he was still traumatized by the incident and could not eat on the day said, “something like this happened about 12years ago but, nobody was killed except for a banker who was shot in the leg and later recovered. The only thing we are doing now is praying to God to reveal the evil doers and put an end to any form of attack in the town. I am very sure that those behind this attack will be apprehended soon to serve as deterrent to others.”
A mobile bread hawker, whose vehicle was hijacked by the robbers to cart away money from the bank, also recounted his ordeal,” I came down to supply bread to one of my customers in the area without knowing that danger was lurking. One of them pointed gun at me and ordered me to be off loading the bread in the vehicle which I did shaking. When I was done, the robbers made away with the vehicle while I ran for safety. One very funny thing was that after the robbers had left, the bread that were scattered on the ground at gun point had been stolen when I got to the spot. We later recovered the vehicle from a police station. I thank God for sparing my life.”
Also thanking God for sparing her life was Mrs Amope who sells nose masks at the entrance of the bank. The woman who revealed that she was at the bank entrance selling nose masks to bank customers before she went to assist her neighbor who just came back from the market to put her goods inside when she heard gun shots.
She said, ”When I was assisting my neighbour to take her goods inside her shop, I heard gun shots and everyone including those who came to buy things lied flat inside the shop. God also saved the bank security guard who came at that time to buy sachet water otherwise, the story would have been different.”
The woman who revealed that those who came were young boys who positioned themselves at strategic locations, adding that they wore cardigans and their faces were not covered. “They were so relaxed, while carrying out their evil agenda unhurt.”
Asked how she would continue her business said, “My life is more important than selling nose masks. Though,the business cannot continue again but my life can continue. I am grateful to God for this.”
A petty trader who sells around the area but craved anonymity, hinted that she had not open her shop since the bank robbery incident because she was still in shock.
Her words: ”I was attending to customers when l heard sporadic gun shots, and everyone lied down. Those selling bread came to drop some loaves, it was then their vehicle was hijacked by the robbers and bread scattered on the ground. When the bread seller came back to pack the bread, none was found. They had been packed by the residents. I thank God for saving my life because I was in the shop with my baby. I don’t know how to thank God enough. We pray that God will console the bereaved and such will never happen in our area again.”