Three stewards working at the Akwa Ibom state governor’s lodge in Asokoro, Abuja, were on Friday summarily dismissed by the governor, Godswill Akpabio, over missing bundles of mint-fresh dollars valued at over $250,000 (N40 million) kept in the governor’s bedroom, news website Saharareporters, is reporting.
The governor, who reportedly ordered the sack of the aides (described as political appointees) personally detected on Wednesday, during his visit to Abuja, that bundles of the foreign currency he left in his bedroom had been stolen while he attended a dinner with President Goodluck Jonathan at the Aso Rock Villa.
According to the website, the missing dollars, kept in drawers in the governor’s bedroom, were leftovers from a trough of hard currency stashed away in a private security safe in the apartment.
Governor Akpabio, the report says, expressed surprise that despite the near impregnable security in the lodge, coupled with the fact that the locks to that section of the lodge, including the governor’s bedroom, were routinely changed each time such heavy cash is brought in, the money still disappeared in the manner it did.
While it was yet to be ascertained that the dismissed steward actually stole the funds, they are being punished for “apparent negligence in allowing the real culprits to gain access to the otherwise restricted area of the lodge”, the report says.
Saharareporters quoted a source close to the governor’s lodge as saying more heads might roll as investigations continue to find the identities of the other culprits involved in the theft of Mr. Akpabio’s cash.
The source reportedly claimed accusing fingers were being pointed at another staff member at the lodge described as one of those in charge of the overall management of the apartment.
Pilfering of huge cash in the lodge has become a recurring event, the report adds.
“In one instance, it was learnt that after bundles of cash disappeared under similar circumstances, the burglary proof and window protectors around the governor’s apartment were changed sometime last year after the perpetrators broke through the ceiling to gain access to the room where cash was stacked in ‘Ghana must go’ bags,” the website writes.
It recalls that a few years ago, the governor redeployed all the civil servants at the lodge and replaced them with political appointees and other private consultants he thought could be trusted.
The website says Governor Akpabio is scrambling to keep this latest incidence of theft in his bedroom under wraps.
The governor’s spokesperson could not be reached for comments Saturday night.
Well known for his profligacy, Mr. Akpabio is reputed for moving around with huge cash, in violation of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s cashless economy policy.
In March this year, the governor openly donated N1million “lunch money” to party chairmen from the six states in the South-South geopolitical zone who had converged on Port Harcourt for a party reconciliation session.
In March 2012, three staff of the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCo) attached to Arik Airlines were accused of stealing N1.5million from the luggage of the governor’s protocol attachee, Ebakabasi Etuk, at Ibom International Airport.
The suspects were said to have stolen the money from the bundles of cash reportedly carried by the Akwa Ibom State government team on their way back from Lagos where Governor Akpabio was awarded the ‘Sun Newspapers Man of the Year’.