It was a black Friday for staff and students of the University of Agriculture in Makurdi (UNIAGRIC). A six-man gang invaded the campus to rob a new generation bank. The robbery occurred during the ongoing semester examination.
Before the robbers’ arrival, the bank’s premises was throbbing with customers. There was a long queue of students waiting to use the Automated Teller Machine (ATM). Customers, mainly the university staff and students, were inside the bank for some transactions.
When the robbers arrived, all hell was let loose. Customers ran helter skelter as guns boomed. Some were trapped in the banking hall. Offices and business centres close to the bank were quickly shut.
CAMPUSLIFE gathered that the robbers came on three motorcycles with a large rucksack containing guns and bullets. They headed to the east wing of the institution, where the bank is located.
As they alighted from their bikes, they shot sporadically into the air to scare people. A security personnel attached to the bank reportedly returned fire. When he could not withstand the hoodlums’ firepower, the security officer fled.
The robbers took strategic positions around the bank, shooting. They attempted to enter the bank but the security doors had been locked from behind.
The robbers fired at the bullet-proof doors repeatedly to no avail. Frustrated, the robbers vented their anger on customers at the ATM terminal. The victims were dispossessed of their phones and personal effects, including ATM cards.
They went to a mini market around the area, carting away laptops, phones and other valuables left by business operators and their customers.
For over 30 minutes, the robbers operated on the campus, to the dismay of many.
Anthony Nwonta, a 300-Level Mathematics and Computer Science student, who was attacked by the robbers, said: “I was in one of the shops in the mini market, charging my laptop. When I heard gunshots, I remained indoors. After a while, I saw one of the robbers walking towards the shop; I went on my knee with my hands in the air, begging the robber not to shoot me. He asked me to face down before taking my laptop, two other laptops in the shop, phones and other electronic gadgets. Then he kicked me as he was leaving. It was a terrible experience for me; I am still in shock.”
The robbery left students jittery as they were yet to get over the attack by suspected Fulani herdsmen, who killed people in Daudu and Gbajimba – the university’s host communities. The gunshots frightened staff and students amid reports that the Fulani herdsmen had returned to the school.
Andrew Orkuma, a 100-Level Physics student, who lives off-campus, said: “I was sleeping when I heard the gunshots. As I got up, I heard people shouting Fulani herdsmen had attacked the school.
“Without giving it a second thought, I ran out of the room, leaving my door ajar and joined the people running into the bush. When we got to the College of Advanced and Professional Studies, I discovered I did not have my shirt and trousers on.”
A woman, who resides in Ujam Village, close to the school, in tears, said: “I left four children at home and I don’t know their whereabouts.”
When the robbers were leaving, they used the school’s Hilux pickup to pack their loots. They abandoned the vehicle in a forest close to the campus. Soldiers moved to the scene, combing the forest in search of the robbers. But the hoodlums escaped.
However, the soldiers rescued two female students in the forest.
Examinations were disrupted, because of the robbery.
Some departments have rescheduled the examinations.
Although no life was lost, students are counting their losses. Innocent Onoja, a final year student of Statistics and Computer Science Education, who retrieved his laptop, said: “I thought the robbers took my laptop, for which I am yet to complete payment. I was busy with my assignment at a shop near the bank when the robbers came. I ran out. After the robbers left, I discovered my laptop had been taken away. The person that helped me to pick it brought it back to me.”
John Igboka, also a final year Statistics and Computer Science Education student, met the robbers as they escaped from the campus. He said: “While I was trying to hide at the post office, one of the robbers saw me and asked me to lie down to avoid being hit by stray bullets.”
He urged the management to beef up security on campus, saying such incidents should not happen in a university. (The Nation)