THERE was pandemonium yesterday in parts of Asaba, the Delta State capital after bandits attacked a bullion van and made away with millions of naira.
The Nation gathered that the bullion van belongs to a first generation bank in Anambra State. Sounds of gunshots echoed during the operation forcing motorists and passers-by to scamper for safety. The development which made motorists to abandon vehicles in the middle of the Benin-Asaba dual carriageway resulted in traffic gridlock.
It was learnt that the policemen escorting the bullion van engaged the robbers in a shootout, but were overpowered by the superior firepower of the robbers. An eyewitness who pleaded anonymity said the siren blaring bullion van was ambushed by a gang of robbers in a convoy of three vehicles which included a grey Sienna van. “The police escorts numbering eight subsequently fled the scene of the incident,” the eyewitness said. Another eyewitness said: “The hoodlums came in about three cars and intercepted the bullion van at the junction. They started shooting and innocent people took to their heels to avoid being victims of stray bullets.
“Even vehicles on the expressway were making detour as a result of the attack. The officers attached to the van responded but I think the hoodlums had superior fire arms because the officers soon disappeared, giving the bandits an unfettered access to the cash stocked in the bullion van.” Delta police image maker, DSP Andrew Aniamaka, who confirmed the incident said “internal connivance” cannot be ruled out, lamenting that some commercial banks were still in the habit of conveying money without using bullet-proof vans despite repeated warnings by the police command.
He said the van was coming from Onitsha and heading towards Agbor, adding that the bullion van had made stops at Awka, and Onitsha in Anambra State. His words: “I suspect internal connivance. This is in spite of the warning issued by the state command for commercial banks to convey money following approved guidelines.
The bullion van is not bullet proof. It is a configured bullion van” Continuing, he said: “Who informed the hoodlums that they were carrying cash through that route? It is quite unfortunate that banks are still using configured bullion vans without bullet proof, subjecting their personnel and escort officers to unnecessary risk. “As we speak now, investigation is on, but I cannot tell you how much cash the bullion van was carrying before the attack. What I can assure is that the command will put necessary measures in place to bring whoever was involved directly or indirectly to justice.” Aniamaka also confirmed that no life was lost and no injury was sustained during the shootout.