There was tension in the Ethiope East Local Government Area of Delta State after armed youths, suspected to be cult members, raided the Eku Police Station and freed some arrested members of their gang.
The assailants were reported to have also destroyed some property in the community as scores of residents were allegedly injured during the three-hour raid.
The hoodlums, said to have numbered over 100, had stormed the area from different parts of the state to free their members who were allegedly arrested by the police at a checkpoint.
It was gathered that the suspects entered the police station around 9.30pm last Sunday after blocking all access roads to prevent movement in and outside the community before unleashing terror.
The incident was said to have caught police operatives attached to the station unaware, as many of them reportedly took to their heels to escape the wrath of the rampaging youths.
Sources said the gang members, who were dressed in black, belonged to different cult groups, including Eiye and Vikings, which had been terrorising residents since 2016.
The assailants, who were reportedly armed with guns, cutlasses, axes, broken bottles, and other weapons, also allegedly robbed residents of their phones, chains, cash and other valuables.
They were said to have freed 15 arrested cult members during the attack on the station.
A source said that the men vandalised several vehicles and prevented injured persons from being taken to the Baptist Government Hospital, Eku, for medical care.
He said, “Around 9.30pm, over 100 youths, whose ages ranged from 18 to 30 years, armed with cutlasses, axes and weapons believed to be guns, took to the streets of Eku. They robbed and attacked anybody in sight.
“Many people lost their valuables to the criminal gang, while some sustained varying degrees of injury. The youths attacked the police station where they freed some of their members who were arrested by the police. It was a terrible situation.”
A community leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed the incident when contacted by our correspondent, adding that the community leadership did not know the reason for the attack.
He appealed to the state Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, and the state Commissioner of Police, Muhammad Mustapha, to beef up security in the area to prevent the situation from snowballing into a major security threat to the state government.
When contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Andrew Aniamaka, confirmed the attack saying there was no suspect in the police custody when the hoodlums struck.
He disclosed that some police operatives had been arrested and were being interrogated.
He noted that the suspected cult members attacked a police post and not a police station.
He said, “The incident happened when some hoodlums literarily attacked the station. It is not a station per say; it’s an outpost. At the time of the incident, there was no suspect in our cell.
“Some persons are being trailed as masterminds. We do not want to engage in mass arrest. But nothing was destroyed and no arm was carted away. There was nothing of value that you can say was destroyed.
“It is when they (suspects) are arrested that we can know the reason for such an attack. We are not aware of any property being damaged.
“I can only speak when investigation has been done and facts have revealed the reason for their action. No police officer was injured but some persons (police officers) are being questioned as to why they will allow hoodlums into a station.
“The onus is on them to defend the station at all times, but if they do not, they will be called to account,” Aniamaka added.