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EXCLUSIVE: Nigerian Police Investigate Zenith Bank Staff Over Transaction Linked To Robbery, Shooting Of Russian National

A 55-year-old Russian woman Angelina Gold has narrated how she was robbed of $3,500 on Friday, June 14, shortly after she withdrew the money from a Zenith Bank Plc branch in Lagos.

She suspected that someone might have witnessed how she was paid the money in the banking hall or some workers of the bank’s branch located along Isaac John Street, GRA Ikeja might be feeding information to robbers.

Gold was shot in the foot by a lone robber in her compound at Oba Akinjobi GRA Ikeja when she was hesitant to release the money.

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According to her, the robbery happened less than three hours after the bank transaction.

Narrating her experience, “On Friday (June 14, 2024), my daughter and I went to Zenith Bank at Isaac John Street to collect dollars so me and my grandson can travel on Monday (June 17, 2024) to my country. It was $3,500. Two days before, we told the bank we were coming to get the dollars.

“Once we were done, we went to Oasis and Ebeano supermarket to spend some time there. As we were returning home, my daughter saw a guy at Cubana bus stop. We noticed we had been seeing him around since we left the bank but we didn’t really suspect anything. So when we approached our house at Oba Akinjobi Street, Ikeja, my daughter screamed again that the man that we saw at the junction was around again. How come he trekked so fast? We still didn’t pay attention.

“So we drove into our compound. I parked my car.  And as I opened my car door to step out, this man walked up to me and asked if I knew why he was here. He said he came to collect the dollars I withdrew and that he had a gun and was an armed robber. He said he didn’t want to kill me but only wanted what I took from the bank. My six-year-old grandson came out and he pointed his gun at him and my daughter. I tried to protect them to stop him from the nonsense and then he shot me in the foot, collected the money and ran away.”

 

Still shocked by the incident, Gold began asking several questions as to how such could happen so fast after she left the bank, without disclosing their movement to anyone.

According to her, this led her to suspect it wasn’t a random robbery.

She said, “I suspect an insider in the bank because we never told anyone we were going to the bank. And Zenith Bank was carelessly giving dollars openly in the hall. This can trigger robbery cases. And for many years, no one has ever experienced armed robbery in our neighborhood in GRA Ikeja. So something is wrong with the security. Banks should stop giving dollars openly in the hall.

“Even if someone saw us collecting dollars and decided to trail us, how was it possible to organise the robbery in just two hours? There were only two people in the hall at that time. So it’s easy to trace. I strongly believe there was an insider in the bank who gave out our information. A few weeks ago, my daughter withdrew a huge amount of dollars from the same bank. Then she called two days before we went to collect another amount of dollars. I’m just thinking about these things; I may be wrong.”

Gold told SaharaReporters that she returned to the bank to officially lodge a complaint but realised it was already closed for the day. This was after she had gone to the hospital for medical attention.

And with the Sallah holidays on Monday and Tuesday, June 17 and 18 respectively, Gold noted that she could not get across to the bank.

 

“I tried calling them since it happened around 3 pm, by the time we had taken the matter to the police and I was driven to the hospital for treatment, the bank had closed.

“Unfortunately, I have to return to return to Russia on Monday (June 17, 2024) because I have my ticket already. And now I’m travelling without money and with a bullet wound on my foot. I have even spoken to the owner of the Zenith Jim Ovia so I believe the top hierarchy know about this incident,” she said.

 

Stressing that she reported the matter to the police, she said: “I reported this matter to CSP Oke, the Divisional Police Officer at Area F Police Station in our neighbourhood at Oba Akinjobi. They only said they would be on it and only provided escorts for me to go to the hospital and then to the airport when I’m travelling.

“Banks to stop giving dollars to people openly in the bank, I would like to stress that again, otherwise they would be inviting criminals who might in turn kill their customers or rob them. There’s nothing much I think can be done. If I can get back my money and the culprit arrested, then that would be awesome. At least I’m glad he didn’t shoot my grandson or daughter or even shoot me dead.”

“I’m sure the robber is a trained security operative judging from the way he acted and how he handled the gun. I know all these because in 2014 I was invited as a supervisor to train special forces during the Sambo Dasuki case. I took all the officers to Russia for training. So I know how they act and behave. The bullet is actually with me. It entered the ground when he shot me in the foot. I picked it up. I will take it to the military hospital in Russia and show them,” she added.

 

When SaharaReporters called the DPO of the Ikeja station where Gold said she lodged a complaint to get an update on the matter, he declined to discuss the matter on the phone.

“Please, you will have to come to the police station if you have any question to ask,” he said.

However, the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer Benjamin Hundeyin later confirmed to SaharaReporters that the matter had been reported to them.

According to him, the matter has even gotten to the desk of the state police commissioner.

 

“The DPO made me to understand that he responded swiftly. It was the day President Bola Tinubu came to Lagos and he was at the airport. He left there immediately and went to the woman’s house and personally took the woman to Duchess Hospital and checked up on her every day.

“He even went to her house on Monday morning to escort her to the airport. On the day the incident happened, the Russian woman successfully entered into her house only for the gunman to tell the security guys at the gate that he was with her and so he was allowed in. And that’s how he robbed the woman,” Hundeyin said.

 

The police spokesperson asked how a stranger would be allowed to gain entry into a private compound, rob the woman of her money and leave without any confrontation.

“As we speak, the security men are in detention. Because if they are not collaborators, why did they allow a stranger to come in without identifying him?” he asked.

 

On the extent at which the police had gone to pursue this case, SP Hundeyin said the bank workers involved in the transaction had already been written to and were expected to respond by Wednesday when work would resume after the Sallah holidays

 

He continued, “The DPO has also written to the bank to speak with the bank manager, the teller and every other person that knew about the withdrawal because it’s a bit strange that the gunman followed her to her house and specifically asked for the money that she withdrew from the bank.

“The bank manager will come to the station for his statement. The security guards have also written theirs and are still in detention. The woman said she’s going to Russia to buy a property this week otherwise the price will go up.”

 

When SaharaReporters reached out to Ayoola Kushimo of the bank’s corporate communications unit, he said the affected must lodge an official complaint at the bank before he would be able to speak on the issue.

 

He said, “The case in question is new to me. The woman in question has to lodge an official complaint first. Or who did she complain to? You? If at all she made any complaints on Friday when it happened, she is likely not to get any response until Wednesday (June 19, 2024) which is the resumption day after the Sallah holidays.

“Please allow whatever complaints she has made to the head office to filter till Wednesday. I’m sure they will act on it. Thank you.”

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