By Adedeji Joseph, Ilorin.
The people of Offa in Kwara State have resorted to go to God in prayers as part of efforts to avert a recurrence of the bloody robbery attack that led to the loss of scores of lives.
The Police insist only 17 persons, including nine police personnel died.
Tens of armed robbers for two hours stormed the central business district of the ancient town robbing and killing at will in four banks, raking money in millions of Naira from the banks vaults before pouncing on the Police Divisional headquarters where they broke into the armoury and made away with police guns.
They left in their trail victims including police officers, bank customers, complainants, suspects in the police cells, passers by and innocent motorists. By the last count, fifty six deaths had been recorded when this report was being filed on Tuesday.
Those who reportedly lost their lives to the robbery attack included nine policemen and eight civilians at the first count while another set of twenty three people reportedly died at the weeked.
Also, an unspecified number of people were said to have died between last Sunday and yesterday of gunshot wounds in various hospitals in Offa and Ilorin, the state capital.
On Sunday, Elders of Offa organized a special prayer inside the community central mosque in front of the palace of the monarch of the town; Oba Gbadamosi Esuwoye, the Oloffa of Offa featuring children not more than ten years old.
This reporter who witnessed the occasion observed the elders and clerics screening the children (boys and girls) to ascertain their ages. Where they had reasons to doubt the age of any of the lads, such a child was simply turned back
The prayer session was led by Offa Deputy Chief Imam, Alhaji Quassim Olatunji and accompanied by National President of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Alhaji Najim Yassin and the National Secretary of Offa Descendants Union (ODU), Alhaja Wosilat McCarthy .
Speaking with journalists at the end of the prayer session, Yassin said the spoecil prayer type had been a regular practice in the town especialy when tragedies occur.
He called on government to come to the aid of the town by ensuring adequate conventional and Mobile Police protection to help stem the trend of bloody robbery attacks that often claimed lives and property.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has deployed Assistant Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari; a crack police officer. Kyari is credited with arresting alleged kidnap kingpin, ‘Evans’, and neutralizing other criminal gangs.
Kyari is expected to among others, help track down the escaping armed robbers who sources say escaped through the bush of Igosun town to come out in Okuku; Osun State after snatching and abandoning cars all through neighbouring States.