• Says suspect sacked over fraudulent practices
By Iyobosa Uwugiaren and Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
The Department of State Services (DSS) has cleared Senate President Bukola Saraki and members of the National Assembly over what it described as “malicious falsehood’’ being spread around by one of its dismissed officers, Abdulrasheed Maigari, who recently claimed that he and other security personnel, including an army captain stole N310 million from the Senate President while guarding his house in Maitama, Abuja.
“The story making the rounds that the sum of N310 million belonging to the Senate President was stolen in 2015 is a malicious falsehood,’’ a senior officer of DSS stated last night in Abuja.
“From our investigation, the money in question did not belong to the Senate President or any member of the National Assembly for that matter. The investigation conducted by the DSS and the confessional statement made by Abdulrasheed Maigari, a suspect in the case, did not support this claim at all,” he said, adding: “Maigari’s recent claim in the media is nothing but a made up story to achieve a hidden motive.”
He said the fact that Maigari, who is currently standing trial for an armed robbery case, could make up such a false claim was a further indication of how criminally minded he was.
Incidentally, the Chief Press Secretary to the Senate President, Mr. Sanni Ologun, had on Sunday refuted reports linking his principal, Saraki, with the N310 million said to have been stolen from a Bureau de Change (BDC) operator, by suspected operatives of the DSS and some army personnel in November 2015.
Ologun, had in a statement, said the reports were being rehashed by some online media to tarnish the image of Saraki.
Corroborating Saraki’s aide on Sunday, the senior officer of the secret security agency said it was because of the criminal behaviour of Maigari that the DSS dismissed him from the service in 2015 and subsequently charged him to court.
“Any attempt to link the Senate President or any member of the National Assembly with the stolen N310 million will be sheer blackmail and an outright mischief,” the senior DSS official who did not want his name mentioned insisted.
Maigari was recently arrested by combined operatives of the Inspector-General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team IRT and the Anti-Kidnapping Unit from the Abuja Police Command deployed to rescue the Chairman of Gateway Insurance, Alhaji Isa Ozi Salami.
The former DSS operative was arrested alongside the suspected gang leaders, Emeka Kelvin and Ndubuisi Prince Uzor, among others on the March 26, 2017 in Suleja, an outskirt of the Federal Capital Territory.
During their parade before newsmen by the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), Jimoh Moshood, at the Force Headquarters, Maigari revealed how he became a kidnapper and also told reporters how he stole N310 million from Saraki’s home in Abuja.
According to the ex-DSS personnel, “I was enlisted into the DSS in 2011 with the rank of a Senior Intelligence Officer 1.
“I served in operations department at Gombe and Osun Commands of the DSS before my dismissal in 2015.
“Before I was dismissed, I was posted to the home of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, in Maitama and in November 2015, I can’t recall the exact date, three vehicles brought in the N310 million into the compound and the Army Captain who was on ground that day ordered that we should take the money away because he suspected the money was government money which could have been wrongly appropriated and could, therefore, be taken.
“We were four DSS operatives and four army officers involved and we drove the three cars to a house in Suleja where the money was shared. I got N30 million and I bought a car and took it to Kaduna State where I hid the rest of my share.’’
Maigari had said that he came back to Abuja, “but on November 28, 2015, I was asked to report at DSS headquarters and when I got there, I was interrogated over the theft and detained for five months, dismissed and charged to court”.
The suspect added that he was remanded in Kuje Prison, where he eventually fell ill after seven months and was later granted bail by the court on health grounds.
The Senate President’s Chief Press Secretary, Ologun, however, in a statement on Sunday, denied Maigari’s claims, recalling that the Senate President’s media office had refuted the report when it first broke that the Senate President had nothing to do with the money, nor did he have army personnel among his security detail.
He said: “We still insist that he has nothing to do with the money and we challenge those still rehashing the stale and fake news to avail themselves of the reports of the police and the DSS on the matter to avoid misleading members of the public unnecessarily.”
He said it was absurd for one of the suspects in a robbery to claim that the money he was found with was brought to the Senate President’s house from where they connived to steal it.
“The report remains a lie which must be disregarded by the public, and should it be recirculated tomorrow, it will still remain a lie. At best we count this unwarranted fake report as part of the April fool ritual. But the public deserves a better deal from its sponsors and purveyors,” he said.
According to Ologun, “The content and intention of the fake report is nothing but baseless allegations emanating from the infantile minds of unreasonable interlopers, hell bent on rubbing mud on the reputation of a distinguished Nigerian, who is today in his capacity as the Senate President, working assiduously with critical stakeholders to stabilise and grow our economy. Enough is enough.”