A mob in Benin City, the Edo State capital, on Tuesday, lynched two suspected armed robbers and set their bodies ablaze for alleged involvement in robbery operations in the state.
The action came barely 24 hours after the state governor, Godwin Obaseki, paid a sympathy visit to the state’s police command where he appealed to the police to return to their duty posts and strategic roads across the state.
There had been fears and anxiety among residents in Benin and adjoining towns over heightened cases of robbery activities in recent times.
The robberies and violent crime across the state became apparent after police officers abandoned the streets and major roads in the wake of the #EndSARS protest which led to the burning and destruction of seven police stations in the state.
The hoodlums also carted away arms and ammunition, looted four warehouses including that of the Nigeria Customs Service while armed men attacked two correctional centres located along Sapele and Airport roads in the capital City.
The two suspected robbers were apprehended near the busy Okah Market, the road by Ighodefeyi Road along Upper Sokponba Road.
The mob comprising mainly youth from the area beat the robbers to a pulp with clubs and set them ablaze in the process.
A witness, Amebo Efe, told PREMIUM TIMES that the robbery incident happened in the early hours of Tuesday.
She said, “They came out early in the morning and they were robbing market women going to the market and other early risers going to their workplaces. There have been regular cases of robbery around Sakponba Road here because the three police stations along this road namely St Saviour, Ugbegun and Idogbo have been burnt and destroyed. There is no single presence of police post or any other security agency here.”
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that another suspected armed robber, also on Tuesday, escaped being mobbed when he went into the banking hall of a new generation bank along Sapele Road and took two bales of N200,000.
He had, after taking the money, pretended to be a staffer of the bank but was promptly caught after a female customer sighted him and raised an alarm within the bank’s premises.
On his arrest, two sharp knives were recovered from him.
The suspect was, however, rescued by the security men attached to the bank who immediately took him to the police headquarters in Benin City.
In addition, another set of gunmen in the town swooped on an operator of a Point of Sale (PoS) and allegedly shot a lady who resisted them during a robbery operation.
At Agbor Park area of the city, a gang of robbers dispossessed residents and motorists of their valuables including cars and cash.
Also, a Toyota Camry car was reportedly snatched at gunpoint along Mission Road on Sunday at about 5 p.m. while another car was snatched near Uwasota in Ugbowo Community of the same day.
Governor Obaseki had on Monday appealed to the police to go back to their duty posts and roads as part of measures to rid the state of criminality and bad elements.
He also promised to rebuild the destroyed police stations, pay the medical bills of injured personnel and purchase patrol vehicles for the police in the state.
Checks revealed that police patrol teams and road checks have drastically reduced as residents now close their businesses and markets on time.
Police officers are said to be afraid to return to their posts due to the massive destruction of their stations and the carting away of arms and ammunition by hoodlums during the EndSARS protest.
The Edo police spokesperson, Chidi Nwabuzor, did not return calls for a reaction to this report.
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