According to a report by SaharaReporters, some scavengers who burgled a gated duplex in a residential neighbourhood of Abuja city centre at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, whisked away large sums of money cash.
They reportedly stole the sum of $4 million cash allegedly stockpiled by the Manager of the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), Aisha Sadiq Odariko and a retired permanent secretary at the Federal Ministry of Finance, Mohammed Kyari Dikwa.
The $4 million is part of about $76 million cash of unexplained origin which has made Odariko and Kyari Dikwa the subject of a criminal investigation by the Nigerian authorities.
Peoples Gazette in its investigation reports that at the heart of the investigation is whether Messrs Odariko and Kyari Dikwa conspired to run an expansive fraud ring as federal officials, as well as the whereabouts of the remaining $72 million that Odariko allegedly told a federal agent was left after the burglars stole $4 million from the $76 million stash.
An official familiar with the investigation reportedly said, “She told detectives that there was $76 million in the building, out of which the boys stole $4 million,” adding that “While about $2 million was recovered from the burglars, we still need to understand how she and her allies were able to quickly move the remaining $72 million and where they moved it to.”
Kyari Dikwa, from Borno, once acted as accountant-general of the federation under President Muhammadu Buhari and retired from the civil service just before some of the hidden cash was looted but the background of his relationship with Odariko was unclear, although officials said they were both romantically involved, citing knowledge provided by their driver.
The Gazette report further revealed that officials said the episode began on or around November 8, 2020, when the burglars – four men broke into a building in Apo, Abuja and entered through the back of the house after separating the barbed wire over the perimeter fence at about 4:00 am. in the B14 block of the neighbourhood.
It was gathered that the suspects planned the operation after being told by Odariko’s driver that her boss and her male friend (Kyari Dikwa) were hoarding COVID-19 palliatives in the building.
It was reported that the driver, identified as Samuel Enebi, told his friends who worked as scavengers – collectors of discarded metal and derivatives – around the nation’s capital Abuja, that there were bags of food items, including noodles and aromatic rice in the house which his boss was keeping from the government.
An official who spoke under anonymity was quoted as saying, “It was around the time that people were discovering warehouses with a lot of palliatives that should have been distributed to Nigerians to cope with the hard times,” adding, “So Mr Enebi just assumed his boss and a man he believed to be her lover were storing away food to sell later at heavy profits.”
Another source told The Gazette, “The bags were so many that they moved into the building that the driver couldn’t even imagine, let alone suspect, that it was money that they were moving into the building during their regular trips there.”
A source said, “The suspects opened one of the bags and discovered it was filled with dollars,” adding soon they “opened another one and another one and quickly decided they should carry a few bags and leave the scene.”
The suspects later found that they were only able to move $4 million from the building, which they subsequently shared among themselves and a few others who knew about the operation, as an official reportedly said “one of the suspects became dizzy and started vomiting at the scene,” adding that the suspect “never imagined that such money existed anywhere on earth.”
It was reported that for several weeks following the operation, Enebi was unaware that his friends shared $4 million from an operation he unwittingly tipped and talked them into while Odariko kept the development from her driver while she sought the suspects.
The investigation revealed that the 43-year-old Odariko from Okene Local Government Area of Kogi State quickly approached the now disgraced and detained senior police officer, Abba Kyari, to help find the fleeing suspects and Kyari quickly used state resources to track down the suspects.
It was gathered that in a statement to the police, which was purportedly entered on November 9, 2020, the NDIC manager said that there were only four saves in the building, from which the burglars opened two and stole $4 million, adding that the money was in ‘hard currency’, and she couldn’t tell if the suspects had stolen more nor did she have a hunch about those who might be responsible.
Kyari’s team reportedly arrested the four burglars who took part in the operation as well as others including Odariko’s driver, Enebi and recovered about $2.1 million from the suspects and tried to set their case up as armed robbery that involved the killing of a pregnant woman.
Kyari also reportedly negotiated his own share of the recovered money and provided bank account details where his share should be sent.
Officials reportedly said that Kyari took that dimension in order to justify a summary execution of the suspects following the recovery of some of the stolen funds but some lawyers were tipped off about the matter and they went to the Force Headquarters to warn Kyari to bury any considerations of extrajudicial deaths of the suspects.
Hence, Kyari was forced to charge the suspects but strictly kept the matter secret because Odariko and Kyari Dikwa did not want their involvement exposed.
Eventually, seven suspects, Eseoghene Godwin, Godfrey Omamuli, Stephen Obodo, Nasiru Muhammed, Yunusa Egbuku, Ayegba Chapi, and Mr Enebi, were arraigned in October 2021, about a year after the robbery.