Pandemonium broke out Monday in an Asaba High Court in Delta State when two notorious armed robbers escaped from the court immediately the trial judge sentenced them to death.
The men had been found guilty of two counts of conspiracy and armed robbery. It was gathered that it took the strong intervention of two armed prison guards in the court to re-arrest the convicted armed robbers.
Court officials confided in our correspondent that immediately the judge pronounced the death sentence, one of them, identified as Elvis Agbofodo, escaped and was given a hot chase by a gallant prison armed guard into the premises of a church next to the court and shot him in the leg. The other convict, Frank Okedema, ran in a different direction before he was apprehended by another prison guard with the aid of residents of the area.
Eyewitnesses said that court proceedings were disrupted by the escape attempt and forced the prison guards to embark on sporadic shooting. The trial judge, court officials, lawyers and other persons in the area ran for their lives to avoid being hit by flying bullets.
It was learnt that other prison officials who showed up in large numbers upon receiving distress calls rushed the wounded armed robber to an undisclosed hospital within the state capital for medical treatment.
Both convicts, it was gathered, hail from Ekpan community of Uvwie Local Government. They were reported to have robbed residents of Ekpan, including one Mrs Omatseye Mercy, of various valuables and sums of cash in July 2010. They were said to have been chasing a rival group over a reported N40million royalty paid by an oil company operating in the area.
The men were also accused of raping, illegal stockpiling of weapons, and stealing.
Court officials also told our correspondent of a similar incident in another court in Asaba as two inmates awaiting trial attempted to escape, suggesting that the efforts were premeditated.