A middle-aged palm oil merchant in Umuahia, Basil Odoemelam, who was robbed of over N1 million in broad daylight in the capital city on Thursday, has died from gunshot wounds.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) learnt that Mr Odoemelam died around 6 p.m. on Friday at the Federal Medical Center (FMC), Umuahia, where he was taken to after the attack.
His business ally told NAN on the condition of anonymity that he died in the theatre, while doctors were carrying out surgery to remove bullets that lodged in his lower abdomen.
The gunmen shot him five times in the leg and lower abdomen before dispossessing him of the bag containing money.
The deceased’s younger brother, Ejima, who was seen weeping profusely at FMC, confirmed the death to NAN.
A three-member armed gang on Thursday trailed the deceased from a bank after he had withdrawn about N2 million to pay for goods supplied to him.
Witnesses said the gunmen, who operated in a Camry, blocked the tricycle carrying the man near the General Post Office, Aba Road, Umuahia at about 3 p.m.
The hoodlums escaped through Bende Road after the operation, while sympathisers, who thronged the scene, rushed him to FMC.
The Police Public Relations Officer in Abia, Geoffrey Ogbonna, expressed concern over the incident.
He appealed to the public to assist the command with “credible information ” that would help in arresting the bandits.
Speaking on the development in a cellphone interview with NAN on Saturday, Mr Ogbonna described the hoodlums as “the remnants of one Sampson Iheukwumere-led gang that had been terrorising Umuahia residents.”
He said, “going by their mode of operation, robbing people with arms in broad daylight, I believe they are remnants of the Iheukwumere gang.”
He said that Thursday’s operation and the way they escaped, “showed that the boys are still hibernating within the city.”
“I therefore appeal to residents of Umuahia to assist the command with credible information that will help us to track them down,” Mr Ogbonna said.
NAN recalls that Iheukwumere, popularly called “Grave”, from Mgbaja Ossah in Umuahia South Local Government Area of Abia, was shot dead on December 3, during a gun battle with members of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad in Umuahia.