The theft occurred on Saturday.
Eight senior officials of the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs were on Sunday detained by the police over the theft of N5 million cash from a safe in the Permanent Secretary’s office.
Also detained for questioning about the theft were all the security men on duty on Saturday afternoon when the incident occurred. No reason has been given why such cash was kept in the office and for what purpose.
As workers resumed from the weekend on Monday, the Permanent Secretary, Habibba Muda-Lawal and other top management staff of the Ministry were held up in a long emergency meeting in a frantic effort to stop leakage of the story to the media.
Although the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Police Public Relations Officer, Altine Daniel, said the Command was yet to receive a report on the incident, a source close to the Ministry said the culprits were initially detained at the police post at the Federal Secretariat before they were transferred to the FCT Command for further interrogation.
The money, which was kept in a safe in the permanent secretary’s office, was discovered stolen after a man was caught by the police when he attempted to scale the compound’s perimeter fence on Saturday.
The suspect was said to have visited the Ministry on Saturday at the close of work in the company of an official who works in the permanent secretary’s office. The official, who is currently in detention, was said to have logged in his official staff identity details in the visitor’s register with the security men on duty and introduced the two others with him as his relations. Thereafter, the official and his visitors proceeded to the permanent secretary’s wing of the Ministry for an undisclosed mission.
Not long after they went inside the office, two of the three persons reportedly came out without the third. Apparently unknown to the security man, they had gained access into the security safe in the Permanent Secretary’s office and removed N5 million cash from the office. The third person, who had the stolen cash stuffed away in a knapsack on his back, sensing that the security man may demand to see the content of the bag, had exited through the back of the building.
He had successfully climbed the perimeter fence behind the building and dropped the bag over it. But as he attempted to jump down, he was nabbed by two police officers on duty, who were patrolling the area on a motor bike.
When the police officers confronted the suspected robber, they were shocked to find wads of cash in the knapsack. The man was unable to provide a reasonable explanation for why he had such a large amount of money in his bag. He was then arrested and taken back into the Ministry for identification, where he was recognised by the security men as one of the three earlier visitors.
On interrogation, the culprit was said to have confessed that the money was stolen from the safe in the office of the Permanent Secretary, though there was no indication that the safe was broken into.