By Sam Oditah
Daredevil gunmen, on Thursday afternoon, attacked a palm oil merchant in Umuahia, the Abia capital, dispossessing him of over N1 million after shooting him.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the man, identified as Basil, was attacked around 3pm near the Post Office, Umuahia.
He was reportedly shot once in the leg and thrice in the stomach with AK47 by the three-member gang.
It was learnt that Basil, who deals in palm oil at Good shed in Umuopara, near Umuahia, was said to be returning from the bank in a tricycle, popularly called Keke, when he was attacked by the gang, operating in a Camry.
Eyewitnesses said that the gunmen intercepted the Keke and shot Basil on the leg, when he resisted their attempt to snatch the cellophane bag containing the money from him.
“When they blocked the tricycle with their car, they made attempt to snatch the bag but the man held on to it.
“He quickly jumped out from the keke into another one, in a frantic bid to escape, while clutching on to the bag.
“It was at that point that they shot him in the leg and later in his stomach when he was still struggling with them,” the eyewitness said.
It was further learnt that the bandits escaped through Bende Road, Umuahia, after successfully snatching the bag of money, while some wads of N1,000 denomination littered the scene.
The man was quickly rushed to the Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia by sympathisers, who thronged the scene.
A NAN correspondent, who visited the hospital, reports that a team of medical doctors were seen at the Accident and Emergency Unit, battling to stabilise the man’s health condition.
A relation of his told NAN on the condition of anonymity in the hospital that Basil was trailed from the bank, where he withdrew about N2 million “to settle” his business partners.
“He had finished his transactions in the bank, where he made transfers to some of his partners and withdrew N2 million cash to settle other people.
“They blocked the keke, when the keke operator parked at the Post Office, for another passenger to drop,” he said.
Meanwhile, some residents of the city have described the broad day light robbery as an afront to the state government and security agencies in the state.
“This is a serious challenge to the state government and police to rise to the challenge of ensuring adequate security for lives and property of residents,” they said.
Attempts made to get the spokesman for the Police Command in the state, SP Geoffrey Ogbonna, were unsuccessful.
A senior police officer at the Umuahia Central Police Station, which is located a few meters away from the scene of the attack, said they heard the gunshots.
The officer however said that “no formal report has been brought to us over the incident.”