Incessant robbery cases in Calabar, the Cross River state capital, took another dimension yesterday as more than twenty armed robbers stormed the popular Watt market in broad day light and unleashed terror on their victims.
The market is adjacent the Atakpa police station. To some of the traders, who had their shops ravaged by fire disaster late last year with good worth millions of naira going down the drain without any help whatsoever from the State fire service, the invasion was a double tragedy.
Our reporter gathered that the dare-devils had made it a point of duty to invade and ransack shops after shops for three consecutive days and each time they struck, they would spend at least twenty minutes operating without being confronted by any security operative.
Fleeing market women said some of the robbers wore face masks while others did not, and that they were armed with shotguns. The robbers were said to have beaten up some young men who did not immediately know that unwanted visitors was paying them a visit, even as they embarked on satanic mission of and carting away traders’ wares and shooting into the air sporadically to scare people away.
In the ensuing stampede, eye witnesses said policemen at the nearby Atakpo police station had to lock their gates to prevent flood of persons, who were trying to escape, from entering the police facilities. This could not be independently verified.
Mrs Felicia Adams who deals in textile materials said “the armed robbers have entered this market not less than three times yet this week. They would always come into the market in the day time in their numbers, armed with knives, machetes and pistols, wearing face masks. They would beat up unsuspecting traders, steal their money and goods”.
Adams could not immediately put a figure to the quantity of goods carted away by the armed robbers.
When contacted, the State Police Public Relation Office, PPRO, ASP Irene Ugbo said the police were aware of last week’s incident and that they were working on the links available to confront the situation.