They were in their home, minding their business. Unknown to mother and daughter, there was terror on the street outside.
Robbers laid siege close to their house in Festac Town, Lagos, shooting indiscriminately from a machine gun reportedly mounted at 23 Road Junction.
It was like a movie scene as they shot their way into two banks, carting away millions of naira. Their stray bullets hit mother and daughter at Block 8, 23 Road House, killing the child instantly. The mother reportedly died an hour later because help came late.
Eyewitnesses said some of the robbers wore hoods; others were in military camouflage.
Mrs. Jane Beluchukwu-Ndirika, a nurse and her 14-month-old daughter Nmesoma, were inside their two-bedroom apartment on the top floor of their three-storey building when the bullets pierced through the door and hit them.
The late Mrs. Beluchukwu-Ndirika was a nurse at the Igando General Hospital in Lagos.
Area E Commander of the Lagos Police Mr. Frank Mba whose jurisdiction covers Festac and environs, visited the house and confirmed that mother and daughter had died.
The late Mrs. Beluchukwu-Ndirika’s friend, simply identified as Uche yesterday narrated in tears, how mother and child died.
She said: “My friend could not get help almost an hour after she was shot, because the robbers were still on shooting spree.
“It was terrible. They took their time. I cannot even explain, I do not know what to say. But I can tell you that my best friend and sister was soaked in blood and in pains for about one hour.
“I do not live in Festac but I came to visit her and was about to leave this morning (yesterday). We have already put my bag outside and I was playing with her son.
“Suddenly, we started hearing gunshots, it was scary, I have never heard anything like that. We peeped and saw people in army camouflage and some in suit. They took their time, and were shooting non-stop.
“The bullets were just sounding from different directions. So, we hid at the back of the door. But the baby started crying and Jane went into the room and carried her.
“The next thing I saw was something that moved like fire and in a very fast speed. The next thing I heard was Jane screaming.
“She called out for help, by that time she had managed to put the baby on the bed in the room. She was becoming weak and going down, so I tried to hold her but could not.
“So, I took one of her children’s clothes and tried to stop the blood flow, that was when I saw a hole on her chest. I was shouting for help but no one could come out because the armed robbers were still there.
“I called her neighbours, who called the police but even the police did not come. The armed robbers were there for about one hour after shooting. My friend was soaked in blood. The baby’s blood also soaked the bed.
“I watched my friend die and I could not do much to help her. Please do not even talk about police because they did not come out.
“The armed robbers took their time; they were loading bullets into their guns and were shooting and discussing among themselves.
“From this room, we heard them shouting and telling their colleagues to come out first; it looks like they were just enjoying themselves without interruption,” she said.
Corroborating Uche’s story, one Mr. John Irabor, a neighbour to the deceased said stray bullets entered two other flats in the buiding.
He told The Nation that Mrs. Beluchukwu-Ndirika was already dead by the time they took her to the hospital.
“We took her to the hospital in my car. The truth is by the time I got into her apartment after the robbers left, she was already dead.
“They mounted their machine gun just by the junction here. They were shooting repeatedly. I am very disappointed with the police because I personnaly called them. I called the Area Commander and I also called the state command’s Public Relations Officer, who assured me they were on their way.
“Unfortunately, the police did not show up until the robbers had fled.
“So, I came into the apartment and alerted other neighbours; we quickly took her to a hospital on 321 road (C close), but they refused to take her in and said she no longer had the pulse.
“They told us to take her to a general hospital and we quickly rushed to the hospital at First Gate, where they issued her death certificate. We took her to The Lord’s Chosen, where her husband is a Pastor and after some time, we took her to Igando General Hospital, where she worked as a nurse.
“She was confirmed dead at three hospitals. The baby also died. It was my son who carried the baby on a bike and rushed her to the hospital but by that time she had passed on too,” he said.
The baby’s remains were wrapped and kept inside the room at the time of our reporter’s visit to the house yesterday. Neighbours and church members thronged the deceased’s residence.
It was also learnt that a security man at one of the banks raided and another resident were hit by stray bullets.
While the resident, who was in a compound, adjacent to that of the Ndirikas, was said to have had one of his fingers chopped off by stray bullet, it could not be ascertained where the bullet hit the bank guard.