Residents of Baale Street in the Ago Palace Road, Okota, Lagos State, say the speedboat used by the robbers, who also abducted Mrs. Toyin Nwosu, the wife of the Deputy Director of The SUN newspapers, Steve Nwosu, broke down for about 20 minutes before it eventually worked.
The abductors were described as robbers by the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Fatai Owoseni. They raided the neighbourhood on Monday before escaping with the DMD’s wife.
Some of the residents, who spoke with PUNCH Metro, said the robbers could have been apprehended if policemen had immediately responded to distress calls and arrived at the area during the delay.
This is just as the robbers were reportedly still insisting on N100m ransom before they would release
the mother of four, who was allowed to speak with the family on the telephone on Tuesday.
The robbers, who stormed the area at about 2am, dispossessed residents of their valuables, before making away with Toyin. It had also been reported that the robbers escaped in a speedboat through the Amuwo Odofin Canal.
When PUNCH visited the area, a woman in one of the houses raided by the robbers, pointed to the bullet marks on her house walls, saying the gang forced her and other tenants to the front of the house and ordered them to lie down, while their money and phones were carted away.
“The first obvious sign of trouble was the persistent gunshots. The robbers entered this house and ordered all of us to come outside. They asked us to prostrate and started to empty our purses. We were about 10 tenants.
After taking our phones and money, they said we did not have enough, and they began to trample on our bodies. They hit my husband with the butt of the gun. It was after they robbed us that some of them proceeded to the director’s house.
“When they eventually left us, a man from the far end of the street started to shout ‘thieves, thieves’. They were mad and began to shoot sporadically. In that confusion, they hurried to their speedboat, but the boat did not start. They were delayed for about 20 minutes. But no policemen arrived at the scene at the time.”
Another resident, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, added that during the delay, the police could have clamped down on the robbers successfully. He said:
“This area is under the Ago Okota Police Division, and the police would have been able to get at least one of them. The robbers started their boat, but it did not start on time. They were there for some time.
“There was a man who kept on shouting ‘thieves, thieves’ from a distance. The robbers were embarrassed, and they began to shoot in his direction, but he was not hit.”
Meanwhile, a source close to the Nwosus told PUNCH that the family had been able to speak with Toyin, while negotiations were ongoing to make the gang reduce the N100m ransom. He said:
“Yes, as of Tuesday afternoon, the gang had not reduced their demand, but the family is still negotiating with them. The robbers have allowed the family members to talk with the woman.”
The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Joe Offor, said the police got to the area only at the time the residents put across the distress calls, adding that efforts were ongoing to rescue Toyin from the kidnappers. He said:
“I do not want to disclose much information, but the police are still on the investigation. The policemen only got to the area at the time that the residents put across the distress call. This is because the police are not spirits.
“This is why we talk about community policing so that the police can respond on time to avert a situation from getting out of hand. If the residents had got across earlier, the police would have also arrived earlier.”
He added that the police was not aware of any negotiation between the family and the kidnappers.
“I cannot confirm that the family members are negotiating with the kidnappers. The part of the police is to investigate. Any other move is without the knowledge of the police.”
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