After operating from one bank to another for about three hours unchallenged, the robbers, numbering about 12,Â who were dressed in camouflage military uniforms continued shootingÂ indiscriminately to scare away onlookers and counter police operatives.
They were said to have raided three banks (two old generation and one new generation bank) in the industrial city killing eightÂ persons and leaving 16 others seriously injured..It was learnt that on arriving the Bank Avenue in the city where most of the banksÂ are located, the bandits opened fire, shooting sporadically into the air, and causing a heavy stampede in the sprawling Nkwo Nnewi, market and beyond
A local vigilante group that challenged the robbers had forced them to round offÂ their operation and in a bid for an escape , the robbers fired indiscriminate shots at people and in the process killed eight persons,Â including a policeman, a lawyer and a member of the local vigilante group.
Several vehicles were also destroyed as their ownersÂ scampered for safety amidst theÂ confusion.
The robbers, THISDAY gathered,Â operated unmolested for over two hours during which they carted away several millions of naira from the banksâ€™ vaults into their own bullion van and thereafter raided the Nkwo Nnewi market abandoned by the fleeing traders before escorting the bullion van to an unknown destination.
Witnesses said the dexterity of the robbers, the sophistication of their arms and their get- away strategies totally suggestÂ Â an insider information network and posed new challenges to the increasing security lapses in the state.
When contacted, the commissioner of police in the state, Amusa Bello, confirmed the incident, saying that his men promptly rose to the occasion by mobilising and chasing the robbers, just as he admitted that there were casualties on both sides.
He said that the police had deployed an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) to Nnewi which helped to contain the robbers. He however, confirmed that no arrest had been made as at the time of filing the report.
The State governor, Mr Peter Obi,Â visited some of the victims at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Teaching Hospital, Nnewi where those who sustained injuries were taken forÂ medical attention.