Police and members of the public disagree over the identity of two suspected members of a robbery gang that killed a leader of a vigilante group in Anyigba, Kogi State
By Labaran Tijani
Alhaji Salisu Ibrahim, leader of a vigilante group in Anyigba, Kogi State probably woke up on Tuesday, October 27 without any premonition that death was lurking around the corner. He was said to be in his farm in the suburb of the town when a phone call came over a robbery incident at the Ayingba branch of Afri and Unity Banks at Anyigba. It was in the process of trying to foil the robbery against the advise of family members and elders of the town that Ibrahim (popularly known as Rambo) lost his life in a cross fire. Three members of the anti-riot squad of the Nigeria Police Force, NPF, also died in the operation. Solomon Emmanuel, believed to be chairman of a vigilante group in Ejule in Ofu local government area equally lost his life. Some other members of the vigilante group who joined in the ill-fated manhunt are receiving treatment at the Federal Medical Centre, FMC, Lokoja and Grimard Hospital, Anyigba, following various degrees of injury they sustained.
Abdullahi Magaji, Kogi State acting commissioner of police, said the robbers invaded the banks at Anyigba in two buses. Magaji said two members of the gang, a male and female were killed by the police while one person was arrested. He disclosed that a bus with a dead body and an Ak- 47 assault riffle believed to have been used for the operation was later found at Nsukka in Enugu State. The police commissioner further explained that the arrested member of the 27-member gang has made a useful statement, adding that the police are already on the trail of bandits believed to have come from Lagos, Enugu and other neighbouring states, including their collaborators from Anyigba town.
This magazine learnt that a few days after the encounter, five more bodies suspected to be members of the robbery gang have been picked from the bush around the scene of the robbery.
Controversy has however, continued to trail the death of the two suspected members of the gang killed during the incident. The police said the suspects, a man and a lady were robbers but eye-witnesses contended that the lady was a corps member travelling with the man to an unknown destination when their vehicle ran into the cross fire. “The vehicle I boarded from Ejule market was the first to arrive at Ukanukpoda, the spot of the incidence. Some policemen standing by beckoned on us to come closer to assist. I saw a lady faced up wearing a corper uniform and a man faced down with two N500 notes in his hands. Both were dead,” an eyewitness explained. A man was said to have claimed to be the husband of the deceased lady and the master of the dead man whom he said is his driver. But the police authority still maintained that the two were members of the gang.
Meanwhile, the Kogi state government has given a state burial to the deceased, Salisu Ibrahim and Solomon Emmanuel for their patriotism. The governor, Ibrahim Idris said their last moment on earth demonstrated the virtues of patriotism powered by gallantry and exceptional courage. “They laid their lives down for peace and security of their community. Their other compatriots used their blood to sound a note of warning to hoodlums and blood-thirsty, greedy bandits that no part of this state will be ceded to their devilry.” Governor Idris said a trophy would be donated in honour of the fallen heroes to be competed for among the youths in the 21 local government areas of the state. Equally, the state government housing estate at Dekina and Igalamela/Odolu local government areas are to be named after them.