Several people were reportedly shot dead yesterday while two persons were kidnapped when gunmen suspected to be herdsmen attacked passengers on Ore-Benin Road in Odigbo Local Government Area of Ondo State.
Several others were critically injured.
The incident, according to survivors, occurred about 4p.m. when buses either coming from Benin and heading to Lagos or coming from Lagos and heading to Benin or Akure were attacked.
According to a female student, who survived the attack, the armed men shot sporadically at the buses and forced the passengers to flee, leaving their buses and belongings on the road.
The terrified lady told our correspondent that the incident caused gridlock for hours on the Ore-Benin-Lagos Expressway.
The female student, who spoke with our correspondent on the phone, said she was returning from school when they ran into the herdsmen on the road.
She said: “I’m schooling at Igbinedion University, Okada. I had planned to return to Lagos on Sunday but when my friend told me her parents were coming to pick her, I decided to go with them and save my money.
“We set out early. We got to Ore about 2:30p.m. But immediately we got to a village after Ore 30 minutes later, we saw three commercial buses parked on the highway in between the buses were two cars. We all thought it was traffic.”
The student added that the traffic had built up. But before she knew what was happening, some people who dressed in Fulani regalia came out of the buses and started aiming at the tyres of vehicles in the traffic.
She said: “Before we knew what was happening, they started shooting those who tried to escape into the bush and a lot of people were killed in the process.
“They operated unchallenged, there was serious commotion on the expressway; even the villagers also run for their lives. It was a driver of a sport utility vehicle who came from behind and chased the herdsmen away from the road.”
Another survivor said the armed men used one of the vehicles snatched to block the highway and robbed passengers.
He said one of the buses on sighting the robbers ran into the ditch and left the passengers seriously wounded.
The source said many of the passengers ran into the bush while two 18-seater buses, one commercial car and a private car were robbed.
Others buses belong to Young Shall Grow and Iyare Motors.
For 30 minutes, the source said, vehicles could not move on the major road linking the states as policemen who were at various roadblocks on the road ran for cover. He said the situation was brought under control after the military men moved in to dislodge the gunmen.
However, he said no one died but many of them were seriously injured while running into safety.
Confirming the incident, the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr. Femi Joseph, said the Divisional Crime Officer (DCO) and the policemen attached to Ore Division had moved in and dislodged the gunmen.
While saying the robbers had been repelled by policemen, Joseph said two persons whose identities could not be ascertained were kidnapped by the hoodlums during the operation.
He, however, said he could no ascertain if the armed robbers were of Fulani’s extraction but added that policemen were combing the bush in order to arrest the suspects.
The Edo State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Chidi Chibuzor and the state Commissioner of Police, Babatunde Kokumo, did not pick their calls.
But the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Operations), Mr. Ayodele Olatunji, said there was nothing like robbery along the road.
He said the command had deployed its Anti-Robbery squad and Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) to checkmate activities of suspected hoodlums on the Ore-Benin Road.