Four armed men at the weekend attacked a popular newspaper vendor based in Umuahia, Abia State, Mr. Agwu Okpara, of Sunset News Agency. Okpara, who plies his trade at the Allwell bus stop, Umuwaya Road, Umuahia, escaped death narrowly.
The bandits gave him serious cuts on his head with a machete and robbed his brother of his valuables. Narrating his ordeal to journalists, Okpara said the ugly incident occurred about 5a.m. on Saturday.
He said: “I finished my morning prayers about 5.05a.m. in preparations for the day’s sales. When I looked out from my room, I found out that my brother had already opened the gate and was conveying the tables to the newspaper stand.
“So I decided to assist him even though I wore only boxers with a T-shirt. When we were setting the tables, I looked up and saw four young men with a torchlight emerging from Isigate axis. It was as if they were heading to the railway, all of a sudden, they turned and started coming towards our direction.
“They approached us and enquired from us what we were doing. My brother answered that we were fixing our tables to enable us display our goods. One of them probed further to know the kind of goods we sell. My brother also replied that we are newspaper vendors.
“He looked around maybe trying to see the newspapers. When he could not see any, he asked my brother to show him the newspapers. He pointed at a corner where there were already two parcels of newspapers waiting for distribution and display and also told him that other newspaper company circulation vehicles will also come to drop theirs.
“While my brother was still responding to the question, a Volkswagen Passat car pulled to a stop, carrying with it parcels of newspapers. He then told them that his claims have been justified with the arrival of the newspapers.
“We replied to their questions innocently without any suspicion or fear and went on to set the tables. Immediately I left to get the remaining table, I noticed that three of them have gone to meet with the driver of the Passat car, leaving one of them with my brother, with the guise that they want to assist the driver unload the newspapers.
“I even heard one of them say to the driver that he wants to buy a copy of a sports paper. When I returned, I carefully observed that the one they left behind was busy robbing my brother of his possessions.
“Quickly I rushed to enquire from my brother what happened; he said the young man had dispossessed him of his phone and cash. I asked the young man why he should do so, knowing well that I am a well-known newspaper vendor in Umuahia and I believe he knows me too.
“I passionately appealed to him to give my brother all that he took from him. He warned me sternly not to touch him. I had no option by that time than to grip him firmly and started shouting, thief! thief!
“Sensing that their trick was about to fail, the other three quickly rushed and one of them brought out a very sharp machete and gave me series of cuts on my head, which caused blood to start gushing out profusely from my head, down to my eyes, making it impossible for me to see clearly and coupled with the excruciating pains, I had no option than to leave him and his group to flee through the rail line.
“It was a good Samaritan that took me to the hospital for treatment about 6a.m.” A passer-by and tenant of railway quarters, Umuahia, who witnessed the incident, listed a number of similar incidents where bandits will attack and rob innocent citizens of their possessions and escape through the rail line. He also called for the urgent intervention of the security agencies to curtail the ugly development which he said may degenerate to a serious problem.