OPINION: How Far With The Offa Robbery's Matters Arising? By Fred Nwaozor

Date: 2022-01-13

I almost concluded that bank cum highway robbery had become a thing of the past in every facet of Nigeria not until the second quarter of 2018 when my likes were proven wrong.

In the period in review – precisely on Thursday, 5th April 2018 – in broad daylight, a gang of well-armed robbers serially invaded five different commercial banks alongside a micro-finance bank in Offa town situated in Kwara State, the home State of the then Nigeria’s number three citizen Sen. Bukola Saraki who was the President of the Nigerian Senate.

The affected financial institutions included Eco, Guaranty Trust, First, Union, and Zenith banks. The firms weren’t just invaded but equally robbed by the invaders. In the process, many were reportedly murdered, several individuals maimed and injured while others managed to escape for their dear lives. It’s noteworthy that some of the police personnel on duty were part of those brutally killed.

It was gathered that the culprits’ ammunition outshined that of the policemen guarding the various banks. According to the ugly report, the robbers were said to be armed with firearms like machine gun, magazine and other related weapons whereas the police officers could at most boast of AK-47 and its likes.

Upon investigations, the police thereafter informed that some of the criminals had been apprehended as the government vowed to ensure every person involved in the dastardly act was duly arrested and prosecuted without much ado. This implies that as other suspects were still seemingly at large, there was apparently no hidden place for each of them.

It was indeed hard to believe that in the contemporary Nigerian society, six different financial institutions could be successfully invaded and robbed in broad daylight by a certain group of miscreants. It became more mind-boggling when realized that the disaster took place in an era when the apex government had ostensibly considered security as priority.

Whatever the case might be, it’s pertinent to painstakingly dissect the Offa incident towards reaching a tangible conclusion. Every discerning mind could comprehend that the affected firms were not robbed simultaneously.

It was also very crucial to take into cognizance that the incident took place amidst the digital age; an era when even a kid could easily assess telecommunication; a period that makes a distance amounting to various kilometres seem so short.

The above observation, as rightly raised by me as at then, is trying to notify us that the concerned security outfits were so sluggish or reluctant towards responding to the robbery attack.

Let’s assume the security men on duty were overpowered as claimed. But it was difficult to assume or believe, as the case may be, that the various security authorities domiciled in the affected State were equally engulfed by the attacked.

For six banks to be robbed one after the other was enough indication that there was a serious lapse as regards curtailing the numerous lingering security challenges not just in Kwara State but across the lengths and breadth of Nigeria. The pace in which the police respond to distress call was exactly the worries raised by the teeming Nigerians when the incident came to public notice.

However, since apportioning blames couldn’t solve the societal plight or could rather result in further crisis, there was then need for the concerned citizens to focus on the way forward.

It was indisputable that no existing bank in Nigeria lacked the Closed Circuit Television (CCT) camera as at then, hence the need to concur with the government’s avowal that there was no hidden place for the culprits.

Though the said device would serve as an aid in capturing each of the suspects, those that were already apprehended by the Police were meant to further assist in providing the consequential details surrounding the ones that were still on the run.

More so, while analyzing the matters arising of the ugly incident, I unequivocally stated then that for apt deterrent to be served, adequate prosecution mustn’t be overlooked. Hence, the crusade wasn’t supposed to stop at just capturing the entire fugitives.

The concerned authorities were expected to further ensure that the jury’s verdict was duly served, and such needn’t be delayed if they were truly determined to serve a placebo to the people.

It’s worrisome and disturbing that till this moment, no one has been convicted as regards that cruel incident that transpired in Offa a few years back. This no doubt signifies enough reason to worry over the Nigeria’s Justice System and other related institutions therein.

Away from justice, the governments at all levels in Nigeria are required to lay emphasis on how best the personnel that have been mandated to safeguard the people’s lives and property can be well-armed with a view to rendering effective and efficient services in their respective jurisdictions.

Above all, the benefitting companies domiciled in any part of the country must on their part endeavour to materially, and otherwise, support the security outfits – particularly the police – so there won’t be any room for excuse when any unfortunate and unforeseen circumstance befalls them. They shouldn’t leave all responsibilities for the government, because the latter cannot handle it alone.

It is part of the Social Corporate Responsibility (CSR) of these firms, especially the financial ones that are more in need of security services, to from time to time extend hands of fellowship to the law enforcement agencies in question, mainly in the area of equipment procurement and workers’ incentives.

It’s therefore needless to reiterate that all hands are expected to be on deck towards boosting the country’s security system, as we eagerly wait for the needed justice to be duly served without further ado. Think about it.

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