Armed gunmen, Wednesday afternoon in Benin City, attacked a Nigerian Army patrol van, killing a soldier and carting away a large zippered synthetic utility bag , better known as ‘Ghana-Most-Go’, believed to have been loaded with cash.
Three soldiers were in the military vehicle heading towards the Ikpoba Hill axis in down town Benin City, the Edo State Capital, when the assailants struck at the traffic lights along Akpakpava Road, close to the First East Circular Junction at about 2: 10 p.m.
It was gathered that the hoodlums drove an unmarked ash colour Toyota Camry car against traffic (one way) towards the army patrol van and two of the four armed occupants alighted and opened fire on the soldiers.
Amid the rain of bullets, the three soldiers were said to have hurriedly alighted from the patrol vehicle and fled for safety, leaving behind the said utility bag believed to contain a huge sum of cash.
One of the fleeing soldiers, apparently struck in the shooting, was said to have collapsed and died about 80 metres from the scene of the incident.
Sources said the attackers grabbed the bag from the military patrol van, dropped it in their operational Toyota Camry car and sped off as passers-by wailed and scampered for safety.
At the time of filing this report, it could not be ascertained if the soldiers were armed, and if so, what became of their arms.
The incident, the first of its kind in recent years in the state capital, caused concern among city dwellers as the word spread.
When our correspondent visited the scene of the incident a few minutes after the attack, patches of the the slain soldier’s blood were seen on the sidewalk as shaken traders hurriedly shut their shops and headed home.
Some hawkers who witnessed the attack said it would have been a bloodbath with many hapless victims, had the soldiers exchanged gunfire with their attackers.
“One of the three soldiers fell down there while running away, he tried to get up, but he couldn’t, he was just bleeding. Later, his two other colleagues came out to meet him but, they were helpless”, a shop owner said.
Contacted, the Public Relations Officer, 4 Brigade Nigerian Army headquarters, Benin City, Captain Yusuf Sokoya said “Ok, I will find out if it is true, don’t call again, I will call you”.
Capt. Sokoya was yet to redeem his promise at press time.
However, when contacted, the spokesman for Edo State Police Command SP Chidi Nwabuzor confirmed the incident.
He said a soldier was killed when hoodlums attacked a military patrol vehicle at first Junction, Akpakpava road, Benin City some minutes past 2 p.m, today.
“Edo State Police Command can confirm that a military personnel was killed today in Benin City.
“A good Nigerian reported the incident at the police station covering that neighbourhood.
“The hoodlums carted away Ghana-Must-Go bag believed to have been loaded with cash kept inside the army van.
“Since they were in their patrol vehicle, they should be armed. The assailants acted on information. Investigation will unravel all that “, SP Chidi Nwabuzor stated.