Agege and Ikeja areas of Lagos State were literally turned into a theatre of war yesterday after a gang of robbers engaged a team of policemen attached to the Lagos State Security outfit, Rapid Response Squad, RRS, in a marathon shootout.
The gun battle which eye witnesses said lasted for more than 30 minutes resulted in the death of three policemen, a commercial bus driver and three civilians. An official of Lagos State Transport Management Authority, LASTMA, was also badly wounded around Anthony area by the fleeing robbers.
Sources said the bandits started operation by invading a bureau-de-change at Oke-Koto, Agege where they reportedly killed three civilians. A team of RRS men on routine patrol in the area reportedly raced to the scene but encountered the fleeing bandits around Oba Akran Avenue and Medical road in the ever-busy Ikeja roundabout.
The dare-devils reportedly gunned down three police officers attached to RRS. While shooting rapidly to escape, the gang reportedly sighted a commercial bus painted in Lagos colour with number plate XQ 336 EKY with a policeman in uniform as one of the occupants.
They opened fire at the bus prompting it to veer off the road and landed in a ditch by the railway crossing. While in the ditch, the hoodlums reportedly drove closer to the bus and rained several bullets at the driver and the policeman who died on the spot.
Eyewitnesses said there was pandemonium at Ikeja and its environs while the fire fight between the bandits and the police lasted. Many people were said to have taken to their heels thinking there was a bomb blast.
A trader who spoke to Vanguard said he saw a bus loaded with badly wounded passengers at Oshodi after the shooting subsided. He hinted that many lives must have been lost because the incident took place in the busy hours when many people were coming back from church while others were going for one engagement or the other.
It was also gathered that a LASTMA official simply identified as Sosan, 37, attached to Anthony area was hit by stray bullets as the bandits were fleeing from Ikeja. At press time, the wounded official was said to be receiving treatment in an undisclosed hospital.
According to reports, the victim was on duty at Anthony area and unknown to him, the bandits were approaching on a motorbike. He reportedly tried to stop them when they released volleys of bullets on his legs.
He was immediately rushed to a hospital by other colleagues and sympathizers. An official of LASTMA who confirmed the story said the victim is alive and responding to treatment at press time.
Meantime, identities of the deceased policemen and the commercial bus driver could not be ascertained but sources said a re-enforcement of anti robbery squad and RRS men have since cordoned off major roads in the metropolis with a view to tracking down the fleeing robbers.
Lagos State Police spokeswoman, Ngozi Braide when contacted confirmed that there was a robbery but stated she was yet to get the details. The State Commissioner of Police, Umar Manko also told Vanguard on phone that he was yet to get details of the incident, assuring that, “as soon as I get to the office and fully briefed on how the incident occurred, I will get back to you.”