Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
Three policemen, four personnel attached to the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and one other person on guard duty were yesterday apprehended by the Bayelsa State Command of the Nigeria Police in connection with the alleged theft of N3.5 million at the state Government House.
However, it was gathered that the amount said to have been stolen which was admitted by the authorities could be higher than the publicly released figure of N3.5 million.
THISDAY gathered that the case was being investigated as theft and burglary by the police and that the incident took place in the office of the Deputy Chief of Staff to the Bayelsa State Government House, Mrs. Ebizi Ndiomu-Brown, whose office leads to the one occupied by the Governor, Seriake Dickson.
Government House officials in the office of the Deputy Chief of Staff had closed from work on Wednesday evening only to return on Thursday morning with the report of the alleged theft which only blew open yesterday.
The safe where the cash was kept was reportedly vandalised by the thieves who attacked in the night when only the suspects that had been rounded up were on duty.
The police were said to be working on the line of thought that nobody could have broken the lock and accessed Mrs. Ebizi-Brown's office with security on both entrances without the express connivance of the security personnel.
Ebizi-Brown reportedly met her office ajar on Thursday morning before inviting the police to investigate the matter which is currently being handled by the State Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department, Yenagoa.
Commissioner of Police, Mr. Uche Anozia, was said to have immediately ordered the arrest of all the policemen and NSCDC officials on duty in the night that the theft took place, stressing that nothing could have taken place without the knowledge of the apprehended security personnel.
It was said to have come as a rude shock to Government House officials that a high security area like that of the Deputy Chief of Staff could be broken into inside the Government House.
Confirming the report, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) of the Bayelsa command, Mr. Asinim Butswat, a Superintendent of Police, said that the suspects also destroyed the safe before carting the money away. He however reported that contrary to the N800 million being rumoured, the command was only aware of the missing N3.5 million.
He said: "On the 5th December, 2019, at about 0850 hours, the Command received a report of Burglary and Stealing in the office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Government House, Yenagoa.
"It was reported that the main entrance door to the office of the Deputy Chief of Staff was broken and the Safe inside the office were destroyed. The crime scene was visited by Policemen and it was further revealed that the sum of Three Million Five Hundred Thousand Naira was stolen.
"Three Policemen, four personnel of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps and one maintenance staff on guard duty at the Governor's office were arrested and are being interrogated at the State Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department, Yenagoa. Investigation is ongoing"
The current case is similar to the one which happened at about the same time last year when Esther Engbeke, Tamnatony Jacob, Engr. Wodu Ebikebomu, Emmanuel Dorgu and Sinclair Thursday were dragged before the Sagbama High Court in Yenagoa, Bayelsa, for allegedly attempting to rob the state Governor, Seriake Dickson, in his country home in Toru Orua, another high security area.
The Prosecutor, Mr. Ayebatonye Jumbo, told the court that the accused conspired to invade Dickson's country home at Toru Orua in Sagbama Local Government Area after one of them, an engineer, discovered a room that had cash in it.
In July this year, domestic workers and relatives of former President Goodluck Jonathan were also arrested over the alleged theft of valuables including jewelries belonging to the former President in his Otuoke home in Ogbia Local Government of Bayelsa.
They were said to have duplicated the keys to the rooms where the valuables were kept and perpetrated the gradual looting of the valuables worth several millions of naira.