By Mike Odeh James
(Otukpo, Central Nigeria) Heavily armed gunmen stormed Otukpo town police station in Benue State on Friday afternoon, October 20, 2023, and gunned down between 8 and 14 persons, including three police officers, while disarming other police officers, eyewitnesses told a Truth Nigeria reporter.
According to Agaba Idabi, an Otukpo resident who witnessed the attack, about 10 heavily armed men who wore hoodies drove into the premises of the police station in three Hilux vehicles and a small car at about 3 p.m. on Friday afternoon and started shooting at the police station.
He said the gunmen proceeded to the office of Homeland Defense and shot two members of the local vigilantes before heading to the Commercial Business District of Otukpo.
On arrival at the Commercial District, the gunmen headed raided four banks: Access Bank, Stanbic IBTC Bank, United Bank for Africa, and Zenith Bank.
“When they drove into the place where the banks were located, the gunmen started shooting at the cars that were parked in front of the banks, and people started running up and down, according to another witness, Odeh Anyorpe, who spoke to the Truth Nigeria.
While some of the gunmen were shooting indiscriminately into the air and, at times, at those running away, other gunmen went into the banks, detonated explosives, and carted money from the bank vault into their Hilux vehicles.
He said the armed group operated for nearly an hour without interference from security agencies, having killed or disarmed members of the Nigerian Police Force.
“From what I saw, about seven people were killed at the UBA, two at Zenith Bank, and two at Stanbic IBTC, while about three people were killed at the Divisional Police Headquarters in Otukpo, which is located directly opposite the main branch of First Bank in Otukpo town.
After robbing four banks, the ganged speeded towards Makurdi, the Benue State Capital, where they reportedly exchanged fire with the Nigerian Army; however, they managed to evade arrest by making a detour and using a local path instead of the highway.
Truth NIGERIA tried contacting the police public relations officer, but her phone was switched.
Speaking to other media outfits, the traditional leader of Otukpo, Chief John Eimonye, assured that the robbers would be caught, as both the Nigerian Police Force and the Army are in hot pursuit of the robbers.
He said, “After robbing the banks, they headed towards Makurdi, but I can assure you that the security personnel, including soldiers and the police, are giving them a hot chase as I speak with you.
“So, they will certainly not escape.”
As of the time of filing this report, residents of Otukpo said eight or more people have lost their lives in the deadliest of the violence that Otukpo has witnessed.
“This is the deadliest attack in Otukpo, and from the bodies I have seen, no less than eight people were killed, Agaba Idabi concluded.
Mike Odeh James reports on crime and terrorism for TruthNigeria from Kaduna