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Witnesses recount ordeal in Benin-Ore Expressway attack



Witnesses recount ordeal in Benin-Ore Expressway attack

Fresh facts have emerged on the Tuesday’s shooting on the Ore axis of the Benin- Ore-Sagamu Expressway. On Tuesday, distressed students and passengers sent out voice recording claiming that they were being attacked by gunmen. While some claimed that it was herdsmen’s attack, others insisted that it was the usual expressway robbery, which that axis is notorious for. The two different versions of the story have created panic, worry and anxieties, with many Nigerians taking to the social media to support or kick against the story.

Yesterday, students of the Igbinedon University, Okada, Edo State, who witnessed the attack narrated their story. They described the incident as frightening. The students, who said they had left the school on Tuesday morning after their first semester examination, told New Telegraph that shortly after passing the two popular parks at Ore in Ondo State, they ran into a roadblock. According to them, commercial buses were used to block the road by six gunmen. One of the witnesses, a Petroleum Engineering student, who identified herself simply as Teniola, said she was in a car alongside three other ladies and a driver she identified simply as Faruk, when they ran into the attack.

She said: “The father of a friend of mine came around to pick her, so I decided to join her. We got to where many vehicles were flagged down and their tyres deflated by the gunmen. In fact, I was sleeping before we got to the spot; sounds of gunshot woke me. Our driver contemplated turning back when a Hilux van occupied by a foreigner, who looked like an Asian, and a uniformed man, drove past. The attackers kept shooting at the van. Our driver used the Hilux as a cover to also escape. I’m very sure the Hilux must have been a bulletproof van.

That was how we escaped.” According to Teniola’s father, his daughter was terrified by the experience when she eventually got home, but she had already recovered. A 400-level student of Computer Science Department in the school, whose father had sent the driver to pick her, identified as Osaretini, said that the men she saw were dressed in green uniform and were about six in number.

She said: “They were about six men in number and they carried big guns with some of them standing on passengers who had been ordered to lie face-down. They kept shooting at other fleeing passengers, but I couldn’t tell whether people died or not.

We had thought the attackers were herdsmen because two days before we left the school, we had received WhatsApp broadcast message which stated that herdsmen would attack along the route on that day.” When our correspondent went to the scene of the incident yesterday, people living around the place gave graphic details of the event.

A member of the National Union of Road Transport Worker (NURTW), Bimbola Badmus, who witnessed the incident, said he almost ran into the hail of bullets of the gunmen before he veered into the bush. He also quickly alerted members of the union, plying the road.

He added: “Three buses were robbed, while others abandoned their vehicles and ran into the bush in order not to be caught in the hail of bullets. I didn’t see any corpse along the road or in the bush. We hid in the bush until a combined team of soldiers and policemen came and dislodged the gunmen.” A resident of Ore, Mr. Sina Ajisafe, said the incident occurred immediately after Omotoso village about 3p.m.

He said that nobody could get near the scene until the military men came and cleared the gridlock caused by the incident. Residents, drivers and passengers who witnessed the incident were unanimous that some of the people who ran into the bush were rescued the following day and taken to the police station at Ore. However, three of the pas-sengers who were kidnapped by the hoodlums and found in the bush, have been discharged from the Police Clinic. The three victims are Nwosu Virginia, Opara Olushi and Okechucku Johnson. They were coming from Imo State and heading to Lagos when they ran into the robbery.

The Ondo State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr. Femi Joseph, said a report trending on the social media which stated that many people were killed in the robbery incident was false. He said: “The command wishes to state that nothing of such happened. To set the record straight, some passengers in a commercial bus travelling from Lagos to Imo State were intercepted by the robbers on the expressway.

The hoodlums, who did not succeed in their efforts to rob the passengers owing to the quick intervention of the men of the command, kidnapped some of the commuters. However, four men were later rescued.” Our correspondent also visited interstate companies alleged to be at the scene of the incident on Tuesday. They denied there was any sort of attack on that route.

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