Couple of days after SaharaReporters revealed that agents of the Department of State Security (DSS) assigned to Senate President Bukola Saraki had stolen N310 million from funds an operator of a Bureau de Change was taking to the Senate President, a source from the DSS has confirmed that the robbery was led by Abdulrasheed Hamidu Maigari and George Mwatapwa Ibbi, who are top members of the senate president’s security detail. Mr. Hamidu reported for the first time as part of the Senate President’s security detail shortly after he was elected President of the the House of Senate.
Report also has it that the high-profile robbery which took place on November 20, 2015 had same Mr. Hamidu masterminding the involvement of seven soldiers in the operation. Mr. Hamidu, who hails from Dungo local government area in Taraba State, is a younger brother to Uba Maigari Hamidu, the deputy governor of Taraba State during former Governor Jolly Nyame’s administration.
The agents and soldiers ambushed the owner of a Bureau de Change and forced him to hand over N310 million out of the funds he was going to deliver to Mr. Saraki. But after the robbery was exposed, both the DSS and Mr. Saraki unanimously chose to conceal the identity of the robbery suspects in order to spare the embattled senator from further public embarrassment.
Immediately after SaharaReporters broke the news to the public, the Senate President’s media team, in a bid to protect the Senator’s political career from the scandal associated with the robbery, quickly reached major newspapers and bloggers in Nigeria to tell a cover up story.
However, the stolen money which was said to be owned by Mr Saraki, gave a strong proof to the report about Saraki’s penchant for bribing judges in order to put out his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
According to SaharaReporters, Mr. Saraki had pressured officials at the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to pay him and Senator Andy Uba, huge sums after the two senators stumbled on information that former President Goodluck Jonathan and former National Security Adviser (NSA), Colonel Sambo Dasuki, had made numerous illicit withdrawals of funds at the CBN. Infact, latest report by police investigators who have probed the senator’s record as state governor, has it that Mr. Saraki was using Bureau de Change operators to launder funds.
Meanwhile, in a press release, the senate president denied ownership of the funds stolen from a Bureau de Change, claiming that the DSS and the Police had reached the same conclusion after investigating the heist. According to him, law enforcement investigators had determined that the funds belonged to an unnamed Bureau de Change operator.
“The Senate President was in Paris attending the Globe COP 21 Conference for Legislators on the Climate Change when we read the SaharaReporters version of the report,” says spokesperson of the SSS.
He also sent a press statement to a few Nigerian editors saying he admitted that the assailants were members of his security detail. Apparently, none of the media houses ever reported that fact, suggesting that they acted on Mr. Saraki’s plea to conceal that information.
When SaharaReporters reached the Special Adviser (Media and Publicity) to the Senate President, Yusuph Olaniyonu, he issued them a statement which reads
“The initial reaction of the Senate President when his attention was drawn to the SaharaReporters story in Paris was that the owners and their sponsors of the online medium simply wanted to draw him into a needless controversy and therefore they should be ignored. However, on his return to Abuja Monday night when many of his friends and well wishers expressed concern over his silence on the report, it became necessary for him to make clarification on it.
“We want to say categorically that Dr. Saraki is not the owner of the stolen money. He does not know the owner who is said to be a Bureau de Change operator. The Police that investigated the robbery incident and the SSS, which issued a statement on it, can confirm that there is no link between the Senate President with the ownership of the money.
“Unfortunately, two of the suspects in the case are said to be part of the men attached to the security team of the Senate President. As anybody could confirm, the SSS selects its officers who are attached to top officials. In most cases, the principal does not select who work in his security team.
“In fact, the first time the Senate President heard about the incident was when the Commissioner of Police, Abuja, requested the Aide-in-Camp to get his permission for the SSS agents to report to his office in connection with an ongoing investigation on a robbery incident.
“To further put a lie to the claims by SaharaReporters, Dr. Saraki hereby requests that the security agencies involved in the investigation should make further public clarification on the case so as to enlighten members of the public.
“The Senate President just like any interested Nigerian followed the police investigation as it progresses, believing that justice will be done at the end of the day.
“The report by SaharaReporters is another case of manipulation and distortion of facts and situations to achieve some sinister purposes. This online medium is, with every false reports it publishes against the person and office of the Senate President discrediting itself and making it clear that it is not worth believing by reasonable members of the public,” the statement added.
Special Adviser to the Senate President