By Chidi Nkwopara
NO fewer than threeÂ members of staff of Imo State Ministry of Education, Owerri, have been arrested by the state police command over the bizarre snatching of over N23 million meant for the June 2009 workersâ€™ salaries by dare devil armed robbers.
Confirming this to Vanguard in an exclusive interview, the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Aloy Okorie, said that the command has a very strong suspicion that there must be an insider connection to the robbery case.
â€œWe are thinking that there must be an insiderâ€™s job because what they were supposed to do they did not do. First of all, if you have to move an amount of that magnitude, you have to ask for police escortâ€, the Imo police boss said.
While saying that somebody totally ignored this important aspect of his job, the Police Commissioner also said that the reasonable meaning any careful analyst can read from this lapse is that somebody was obviously planning ahead of the incident.
â€œSomebody was already planning ahead on how to corner that money. So, two or three staff who are directly involved are here (Police Headquarters, Owerri) with us. We are interrogating them with a view to ascertaining the level of their individual or collective involvement in the ugly crimeâ€, the CP said.
Vanguard recalls that dare devil armed robbers trailed the money_laden TOYOTA Hiace bus from Zenith Bank along Wetheral Road, Owerri, where the officials of Ministry of Education had gone to collect staff salaries.
It was however not very clear at press time how finance officers of the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, who were also in Zenith Bank to withdraw staff salaries, decided to move their cash into the bus.
It was also gathered that the armed robbers overtook the bus near the AP filling station along Port Harcourt Road, released a volley of bullets which sent people scampering into safety, before they took the bus away.
An eye witness told Vanguard that the Cashier, Mr. Jude Ezebuiro, who was reluctant to part with the government money in his custody, was shot and fatally wounded.
â€œThe Cashier was shot and it is feared that his genitals was affected by the gunshot. He is currently receiving medical attention in Federal Medical Centre, Owerriâ€, the witness said.