Youth Corps members
By Toba Suleiman
Like a wild fire, the rumour raged in Ekiti State and beyond. It caused some scare among parents and guardians and others who have participants in the National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) camp in state.
A robbery attack on a beer distributor in Ise/Orun Ekiti, a town located within the two communities, during which guns boomed had triggered the rumour of a terrorist attack on the NYSC Orientation Camp which is sandwiched between the two communities.
However, the attempt was foiled by a detachment of policemen and the intensity of the gun battle had shattered the quietude of the community and caused panic among the people. The incident went viral on the social media as people gave a distorted account of what happened. The incident had made many to think that terrorism that has blighted the North had seeped into Ekiti State.
But the state NYSC Coordinator, Mr. Tunde Baba-Ahmed, Sunday denied the rumour that suspected terrorists had attacked the orientation camp.
He told reporters that although it was true that armed robbers struck at Ise, a community nearby, but no corps member was affected in the incident.
Corroborating his story, the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Sotonye Wakama, said his command was aware of the news making the rounds that Ekiti State NYSC Orientation Camp was attacked by an extremist group.
“We wish to state categorically that the news is false. There was no attack or attempted attack by any group on the orientation camp,” he added.
Wakama, in a statement, dispelled the rumour of terror attack and gave a detailed account of the incident.
He said: “The attention of the command has been drawn to the news making the rounds that Ekiti State NYSC orientation camp was attacked by an extremist group. We wish to state categorically that the news is false. There was no attack or attempted attack by any group on the orientation camp.
“However, the news may have originated from the attempted armed robbery attack on the premises of a known beer wholesaler in Orun-Ekiti, a town of about one-and-a-half kilometres from the camp.
“The armed robbery was, nevertheless, foiled when a distress call sent to the police was promptly responded to. The armed robbers on sighting the police opened fire and were engaged in a gun duel as a result of which one of them was shot. Others later abandoned some of their arms and fled into the bush.
“Two locally made double-barrel guns and a car were recovered from the scene. Detectives are on the trail of the hoodlums with a view to get them arrested and bring them to justice. This incident has nothing to do with the NYSC orientation camp.
“Meanwhile, the camp is being manned by armed policemen, soldiers and other security agencies; therefore, corps members in the state and the general public are assured of their safety as adequate and proper security measures are in place to ensure their safety.”
Sources said following the rumour, people were said to have been traumatised during the operation, as passersby were said to have scampered to safety following the suspicion that the bandits might have been suicide bombers.
But shortly after the operation, the news had spread, including on Facebook, tweeter and other social media, that terrorists had invaded the NYSC Orientation Camp located in Ise-Orun/ Emure communities.
It was learnt that when the robbers’ attempted attack on the beer distributor failed, they shot sporadically into the air to scare people that may attempt to block their escape route.
They were said to have hijacked a Toyota vehicle from a motorist to use as their getaway car.
But policemen, who were said to have been alerted by the sporadic shootings, pursued the robbers towards Emure/Akoko side, where the robbers were said to have abandoned the car and fled into the bush.
The Public Relations Officer (PPRO) of the State Police Command, Mr. Victor Babayemi, confirmed that the vehicle was recovered and that one of the robbers was shot during a gun duel with the police.
Meanwhile, the NYSC Director General, Brig Gen Nanamdi Okorie-Affia, has urged corps members to always indulge in activities that would bring about national rebirth and unity rather than exhibiting acts that could further divide the nation.
Addressing the 2013 Batch C corps members at the NYSC Orientation Camp in Ise Ekiti, Okorie-Affia said the corps members must refrain from exhibiting acts of religious and cultural intolerance in the various communities where they are posted for the compulsory one-year service.
He warned the corps members against manifesting religious fanaticism and ethnic bigotry in their various places of postings.