Saturday, January 14, 1967: In broad daylight, four armed men broke into the National Bank of Nigeria in Ado Ekiti and held the cashier at gunpoint. Outside, an angry mob assembled. Of the four robbers who emerged, one was beaten to death by the crowd, while the remaining three ran to their getaway vehicle—my father’s white Peugeot—a car commonly seen in Nigeria, which is why it was probably singled out by the thieves. Pursued, they led the police on a high-speed chase to a wooded area on the outskirts of town. The officers shot one of the robbers as he attempted to flee on foot, capturing him. The other two sped away in the Peugeot.
The following day an astute policeman noticed a white Peugeot 403 parked outside a bank. Investigating, he discovered the license plate number and the license sticker on the windshield did not match. He called for backup, and the officer began searching the surrounding buildings. In a structure behind the bank, the police captured the two remaining robbers and uncovered £6,000 in cash.
Arrested, the three faced charges of “armed robbery, grant theft auto, and the alleged unlawful shooting of an expatriate”—my father. They were held in the Agodi Prison, and all three declined to participate in a lineup, so my father never had the opportunity to identify the two who had shot him and stolen his car. Before the trial took place, the three men escaped. As time passed and no progress was made in the investigation, the police suggested we drop the case. When asked if we had bad feelings about Nigeria because of this incident, we always replied no! Carjackings and armed robberies can happen anywhere in the world, and they do every day.
Next week: “Whispers of War: 1967.”