By Sam Oditah
Umuahia – A middle-aged palm oil merchant in Umuahia, Mr Basil Odoemelam, who was robbed of over N1 million in broad day light in the capital city on Thursday, has died from gunshot wounds.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) learnt that Odoemelam died around 6pm on Friday at the Federal Medical Center (FMC), Umuahia, where he was taken to after the attack.
His business ally told NAN on the condition of anonymity that he gave up the ghost in the theatre, while doctors were carrying out surgery to remove bullets that reportedly lodged in his lower abdomen.
The gunmen were alleged to have shot him five times in the leg and lower abdomen before dispossessing him of the bag containing the money.
The deceased’s younger brother, Ejima, who was seen weeping profusely at FMC, confirmed the death to NAN.
It will be recalled that a three-member armed gang on Thursday allegedly trailed the deceased from an old generation bank after he had reportedly withdrawn about N2 million to pay for goods supplied to him.
Eyewitnesses said the gunmen, who operated in a Camry, “double crossed” the tricycle (Keke) conveying him near the General Post Office, Aba Road, Umuahia at about 3pm.
The hoodlums escaped through Bende Road after the operation, while sympathisers, who thronged the scene, rushed him to FMC.
The Police Public Relations Officer in Abia, SP Geoffrey Ogbonna, expressed concern over the incident and appealed to the public to assist the command with “credible information ” that would help in arresting the bandits.
Speaking on the development in a cellphone interview with NAN on Saturday, Ogbonna described the hoodlums as the remnants of one Sampson Iheukwumere-led gang that had been terrorising Umuahia residents.
He said, “Going by their mode of operation, robbing people with arms in broad day light, I believe they are remnants of the Iheukwumere gang.”
He said that Thursday’s operation and the way they escaped, “showed that the boys are still hibernating within the city.
“I therefore appeal to residents of Umuahia to assist the command with credible information that will help us to track them down,” Ogbonna said.
NAN recalls that Iheukwumere, popularly called “Grave”, from Mgbaja Ossah in Umuahia South Local Government Area of Abia, was shot dead on December 3, during a gun battle with members of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad in Umuahia.