The four-member gang of armed robbers had entered the circulation office of the media organisation at about 1.30pm and asked the Circulation Manager, Mr. Raji Tajudeen, to surrender a bag containing N500,000 to them.
As they told Tajudeen to cooperate with them, one of them brandished a gun and snatched a yellow bag containing the money.
After collecting the yellow bag, the bandits bolted down the stairs.
Narrating the incident to our correspondent, Tajudeen explained that no sooner had he got to the office after a transaction at the bank than two hefty men entered the office, with one of them pointing a gun at him.
He said, “While the two of them were searching for the money, one of my friends who was outside, noticed that all was not well in my office. He decided to ask from a distance what was happening. I winked at him and gave him a sign, which he understood.
“He went downstairs immediately and raised the alarm. A neighbour, (name withheld), rushed to the main entrance of the building and slammed shut the gate before the armed robber could get there.
“Already, a crowd was already gathering close to The Punch office. When the armed robbers got to the gate that had been shut, one of them kicked it and it flung open.”
Realising that a mob had already gathered, one of the robbers fired a shot, which initially scared the relentless crowd.
A man, who has an office in the same building, also told newsmen that gathered at the place after the incident that the determined mob pursued the armed robbers, who later ran out of bullets.
The man said the armed robbers were not familiar with the terrain and suspected that somebody in the area must have directed one of them on the phone on how to get their target.
“We saw one of them making calls and from what he was saying, an insider must have been directing him (the armed robber) on how to get to Tajudeen’s office..
“The crowd chased the armed robbers up to Abakaliki Street and when they were not having bullets again, they ran into a restaurant. The mob began to throw stone, bottles and other objects into the restaurant,” he said.
Two of the robbers were later killed as they attempted to shoot their way out from a building, where they were holed up.
Tajudeen, who was still in shock as a result of the incident, said the police released the sum of N250,000 to him as the amount recovered from the armed robbers.
Confirming the incident, the Rivers State Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Ahmad Mohammad, hailed the police and the members of the public for their speedy response in foiling the robbery attempt.
Mohammad, who spoke at the Mile One Police Divisional Station, where the bodies of the suspected robbers were dumped, said, “Our men swung into action as part of our timely response and two of the suspected robbers were fatally wounded while the other two escaped.
“I will advise members of the public to reduce physical banking transactions and go more for electronic transactions since the ATMs are there. Physical banking transactions should only be done when it is unavoidable.”