New details emerge on foiled Equity Bank raid

The security guard, who was arrested in connection with the attempted robbery of an Equity Bank branch in the eastern Soroti City on April 23, 2024. PHOTO/SUSAN NANJALA.

What you need to know:

  • Two people have been arrested in connection with the incident.

Yesterday’s attempted robbery at an Equity Bank branch in the eastern Soroti City happened at a time of surprise power blackout, investigators have said.

But Mr Peter Kaujju, the spokesperson of Umeme, the national power distributor, dismissed the claim.
“There was no history of a power blackout at the said time … For now that is what I can say,” he said, adding that ongoing inquiries will reveal what exactly transpired.

His rejoinder flies in the face of earlier comments by Mr Edwine Benesa, the deputy resident city commissioner in-charge Soroti City East, that a “sudden power failure” at 3am when suspected robbers attempted an attack, “left the town in darkness”.

In his official capacity, Mr Benesa is the second-in-command overseer of security in the city, and he did not specify if information he said came from the police or other security/intelligence feeds.

“If it was not for police’s intervention, the situation could have been worse,” he said, “Whatever is required of us is being done to reach the conclusive depth of the matter.” 

By press time, detectives had taken into custody a guard from Security Guard Africa (SGA), who was on duty, and his supervisor, to help with the investigations.

Police said they are looking for a second guard that SGA deployed to protect offices of the financial institution, but was a no-show at work, without prior communication, on the pretext of caring for a patient at hospital he reportedly didn’t disclose. 

We are withholding identities of those incarcerated, pending their arraignment in court. 
 “[The second guard] is on the run and security is piecing up dots regarding this attempted robbery,” said ASP Edison Obukulem, the spokesperson for police in East Kyoga region. 

The law enforcement agency responded after being alerted that armed robbers were attempting to break into the Equity Bank branch in Soroti City in the wee hours yesterday. 

The army later reinforced the police and, together, they cordoned off the bank in the early hours yesterday to restore order at the scene that had drawn crowds before the bank opened for normal operations.

In a public statement on the incident, the bank management said “kindly note that we had a distress incident [yesterday] at our Soroti branch where armed persons attempted to gain access into the banking hall.”

“No property or lives were damaged or lost. Security agents led by local authorities are currently investigating the incident,” the statement read in part.

Normal banking services were shortly restored following the incident. 
“We apologise for the inconvenience caused,” Equity Bank Uganda said in its unsigned April 23 statement titled, Incident at Soroti Branch.  

As the inquiries widened, Mr Sam Kwebaza, the regional manager of SGA in Eastern Uganda, whose charges were responsible for securing the financial institution, yesterday said they are “cooperating” with security agencies investigating the matter.

“We came here and only found one security guard at the scene, [the second] was absent, yet all of them had signed in [for duty on Monday],” he said.

The missing guard prior notify the employer of sudden absence from duty and told supervisors who reached him after the incident that he was unable to present himself because he was busy caring for his hospitalised father.
We could not independently verify reports that the thugs took the on-duty guard hostage, but the planned raid was thwarted after vigilant residents alerted security agencies. 

Police and army temporarily closed Soroti-Gweri Road in Soroti’s Central Business District for part of yesterday morning as they combed for evidence.