The invasion left many dead, several others injured, and saw the looting of goods worth several million nairas. The thugs loyal to Mr. Baro were joined by hoodlums who took advantage of the invasion in order to loot the mall. The incident was sparked by a scuffle between the suspended chairman and two Navy personnel attached to Shoprite.
Briefing journalists on Monday evening in his office, the Commissioner of Police (CP), Mr. Alkali Baba Usman, noted that the Divisional Police Officer of Ekpan Division received a distress call from the Operation Manager of the Warri Shopping Mall indicating that the mall was under attack by hoodlums.
“Consequently, patrol teams from various divisions in Warri were swiftly mobilised to the scene. Once the miscreants became aware of the policemen, they ran off. One of the hoodlums, who was identified as Godspower Ijoesgaga, was arrested.
“Preliminary inquiries revealed that the miscreants damaged and looted various items such as laptops and handsets from the shopping complex.
“A million naira gift will be given to anyone with useful information that could lead to the arrest of Mr. Henry Baro and Mr. Napoleon Odibu, the chairman of Central Motor Park Effurun both of whom are currently on the run,” the CP stated.
The CP confirmed the crisis was sparked by an altercation between Mr. Baro and the two Naval officers. Mr. Usman also added that the bandits responsible for the looting took to the streets of Warri in protest shortly after the incident. While they paraded through the town they fired their weapons sporadically, and accidentally shot and killed a Mr. Afor Emero.
Since the incident, 18 suspects have been arrested and are in police custody, according to CP Usman.
In a swift reaction, Mr. Henry Baro said he is not evading the police, but stated that he has lost confidence in the Delta State Police Command, alleging that the State police command was being used by his political detractors to undo him.
The suspended chairman called upon the Inspector General of Police (IPG) to wade into the matter to ensure that justice was done. Mr. Baro also insisted that he never sent anybody person, or group of persons, to attack and loot the Effurun Shoprite.
“The attack on the Shopping Mall was regrettable and never intended. I did not call people to attack Shoprite. Shoprite is a project I hold dear to my heart and I could not have mastermind its destruction. The situation was hijacked by traders on the roundabout who are not residents of the Local Government Area (LGA),” Mr. Baro stated.
SaharaReporters reliably learned that for the past few days after the invasion, political opponents of Mr. Baro, especially the State government, have put serious pressure on CP Usman to declare wanted, arrest, and prosecute the suspended embattled council chairman. Mr. Baro has been at odds with the Delta State government ever since his suspension by the State House of Assembly last year.