After robbers attacked Offa on April 5, 2018—carting away wads of currency notes in Union Bank, Eco Bank, Guarantee Trust Bank, First Bank, Zenith Bank and Ibolo Micro Finance Bank,
“It was the scale of the robbery that embarrassed us. These robbers even took down a police station during their operation”, a police spokesperson who didn’t want his name used for this story, confessed to Pulse.
Over mugs of tea and coffee in a dimly lit room at Force Headquarters, Abuja, in the wake of the attack, personnel of the Police Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) pored through CCTV footage of the robbery while zooming images to make out intricate features of the dare-devil robbers.
“The presidency was on our necks. The Kwara State government was on our necks and the whole nation was on our necks. We gave ourselves a deadline because Inspector General of Police wanted us to nab the suspects as quickly as possible. There was no time to waste”, our source at the police headquarters continued.
On April 21, the police leaked footage of the robbery to the public and followed up with pictures of four suspects in the first week of May. It was clockwork for the police at this point.
Another officer who worked on the case told Pulse that police bosses were screaming it into the ears of subordinates that their promotion depended on cracking the robbery case.
Police was disturbed by rumours
“I’m sure you heard rumours that the police aided the robbers in Offa. That wasn’t true at all”, added the police source.
Moments after the robbery attack, Kwara State Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, announced a N5million reward for anyone with informationthat could lead to the arrest of the culprits.
“While we mourn our dead with a heart full of sadness and care for the injured by paying all their medical bills, we will do everything in our power to bring the attackers to justice, and ensure that never again does any community or people in our state experience such tragedy”, Gov. Ahmed said.
The governor called on anyone with useful information on the incident to contact the state police command through the following numbers: 0803 739 1280 and 0803 702 4320.
The bounty and hotlines worked, according to one aide of the Kwara governor.
With pictures of the suspects and phone numbers in the public domain, the job of the police was made a lot easier.
12 suspects arrested
On April 13, police spokesperson Jimoh Moshood announced a breakthrough. 12 suspects had been arrested, the police announced.
The suspects were listed as Adegoke Shogo, 29; Kayode Opadokun, 35; Kazeem Abdulrasheed, 36; Azeez Abdullahi, 27; Alexander Reuben, 39; and Jimoh Isa, 28.
Others were Azeez Salawudeen, 20; Adewale Popoola, 22; Adetoyese Muftau, 23; Aminu Ibrahim 18; Richard Buba Terry, 23; and Peter Kuunfa, 25.
Moshood said, "The police teams engaged in massive raids of identified criminal spots/flashpoints, stop and search operations, visibility and confidence building patrols, intelligence gathering which led to the arrest of the suspects.
"Some of those arrested also involved serious exchange of gun fire between the police and the suspects in their various hideouts”.
Former SARS operative was part of the robbery
On May 10, media reports emerged that Michael Adikwu, a police corporal who was attached to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Kwara State command before he was dismissed in 2012, was among the robbers who raided Offa and killed dozens for fun.
"He (Adikwu) was a SARS operative at the Kwara State Police Command. He used to fraternise with robbers. There was a robbery that happened in Kwara State about six years ago. The robbers killed somebody and escaped. The police were able to arrest those robbers.
"He collected money from those robbery suspects and released them. Later, the robbers were rearrested and they confessed that he aided their escape. He was arrested, tried in an orderly room trial and dismissed.
"He was charged to court together with the robbery suspects and was in prison for three years. He and some of the robbers were able to manoeuvre their way out of the prison and formed a robbery gang."
Arrest of Arrow
On Monday, May 21, 2018, the police disclosed that it had arrested another suspectcalled Kunle Ogunleye, aka Arrow.
Arrow was arrested in Oro town, Kwara, by the Inspector General of Police Intelligence Response Teams (IRT) on Sunday, May 20.
Police spokesperson Moshood would disclose that circulating pictures of the suspects on the internet proved vital in arresting more suspects.
“Following the publication of pictures of the participants of the Offa bank robberies in the media, we have been getting several credible leads from members of the public and as a result, members of the Intelligence Response Team deployed by the IGP in Kwara, Ondo, Osun, Oyo and Ekiti States were able to arrest two more members of the gang robberies”, Moshood said.
The police has also promised to conceal identities of persons who volunteer information that will lead to the arrest of the remaining Offa robbery suspects. Some 30 robbers were said to have been involved in the bloody operation on the day.
Senate President Bukola Saraki cited the Offa robbery incident as one reason why the senate has been summoning IGP Idris to make an appearance at the upper legislative chamber.
Idris has thrice shunned invitations from the senate.