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FESTAC robbery: Police blame navy, Air Force

Lagos Commissioner of Police- Fatai Owoseni

The police in Lagos have said their calls for help from the Navy and the Air Force during Tuesday’s robbery at FESTAC Town were ignored, the NATION gathered.

Some senior police officers said they contacted the navy when the robbers arrived on the scene.

It was learnt that the navy told the police that even their smallest vessel was too big to enter the canal.

The police were reportedly asked to seek help from the Air Force.

The Air Force was also said to have been contacted to trail the robbers on the canal but failed to take action.

The senior police officers said the Air Force directed the police to contact its headquarters in Abuja for clearance.

Navy’s Director of Information Commodore Aliyu Kabiru said the outfit would not engage the police in a blame game or controversy.

The Area Commander, Area E in Lagos State, Frank Mba, has been redeployed.

His redeployment, which was reportedly sent by Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Solomon Arase, directed the ACP to resume in Osogbo, the Osun State capital.

A query was reportedly issued on Wednesday to the mobile policemen guarding the banks but there were no indications that Mba was queried.

The police were said to have recovered N27 million from the robbers as they fled.

Police spokesman Jospeh Offor said he was not aware of the allegation against the navy and the Air Force.

The police spokesman also said he was not aware of Mba’s transfer.

The Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG) in charge of Zone II, Bala Hassan, yesterday decried the lack of an intelligence gathering system in the service.

The police chief blamed civilians for not providing the police with information. He said some people would have been aware of the criminals’ plans before they struck.

Hassan spoke during his inspection visit to FESTAC Town.

The AIG, who said there would have been more disaster if the police had not engaged the criminals, assured that the Force would arrest and prosecute the hoodlums.

Hassan said: “It is our duty to ensure that the criminals are brought to justice within the shortest possible time. That is the only way the hearts of Lagosians will be at peace. We must do our best to stop a repeat.

“You can equip them (Marine Police), but there is no way you can cover the vulnerable areas. Therefore, there is need for us to be on guard and ensure that we cooperate with other security agencies and the public to get information that could stop their operations.”

“They (criminals) must have gone to a drinking joint; somebody would have seen them. If you had reported to the Commissioner of Police that you saw some people in suspicious manner, drinking and planning a robbery operation, they would have been arrested.

“We must increase our level of intelligence to make sure that this thing does not happen again. That the robbers were in military uniform does not mean they were uniform men; the purpose of that was to create an atmosphere of intimidation so that they would carry out their operation.

“If we had followed the way they (robbers) did, there would have been a lot of causalities, because this is a built-up area – from the bank and the neighbouring community. “The important thing now is for the robbers to be arrested and brought to justice.

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