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End of the road for notorious cable thieves in Abuja

By Emma Nnadozie, Crime Editor

…As Immigration record heavy catch, arrest 10 suspects
TEN men suspected to be members of a notorious gang that specializes in stealing cables belonging to Power Holding of Nigeria, PHCN; Nigeria Telecommunications Company, NITEL, and CCTV cameras in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, have been rounded up by vigilant Immigration guard duty operatives.

The operatives had on Wednesday, June 6, 2012 around 9pm observed suspicious movements in an adjoining gutter/underground tunnel adjacent the residence of the Controller-General of Immigration where some of these cables are laid. Consequently, they launched a search, firing warning shots and pepper spray to force the suspects out of the tunnel.

Officials of the Immigration dept
Fortunately, ten of the thieves were flushed out from the tunnel and subsequently arrested by the Immigration personnel. However, the story took a different dimension when on interrogation, five of the suspects turned out to be officials of the Immigration department.

Crime Alert learnt that concerted efforts made by the suspects to sweep the case under the carpet failed as the guard duty officials insisted on making them pay for their offence.  They were subsequently taken to the Immigration headquarters where the controller-general ordered that they be paraded without delay to serve as deterrent to others that may toe their nefarious path.

The paraded suspects

While parading the suspects, the Public Relations Officer of Nigeria Immigration Services, Assistant Controller Joachim Olumba, said it was to underscore the determination and utter commitment of Immigration Service towards fighting crime; whether trans-border criminality or other forms of crime. Giving vivid details of how the suspects were arrested, the service spokesman said: “We shall not fold our hands and watch unscrupulous Nigerians undermine efforts of the Federal Government to secure our environment.

The names of the five suspects who all claim to be indigenes of Zamfara State are Abdullahi Abubakar, Musa Ismaila, Salisu Usman, Awwal Musa and Awwal Sani. The unfortunate side of the story is the fact that some Immigration personnel on guard duty were implicated as allegedly being part of the vandalizing gang.

“In view of the fact that their offence border on economic sabotage, the Controller-General of Immigration has directed that the suspected cable vandals be handed over to the Nigeria Police for further thorough investigation and prosecution while their alleged collaborators in Nigeria Immigration Service would face immediate Orderly Room Trial. If they are found culpable, they would be dismissed from Service and subsequently handed over to the Police for prosecution.

Eventual action
I wish to inform you that we have not paraded the implicated Immigration operatives because the process of their in-house trial is in progress and you will be duly informed of the findings and the eventual action to be taken against them by the Service.

“The Controller-General of Immigration wishes to use this opportunity to warn all Immigration officers and men on the severe implications of indulging in any criminal activity or unprofessional conduct. They will not go unpunished and it could be at the expense of their job. She is also using this medium to advise all Immigration officers and men to avoid aiding and abetting any criminal group or individual as the consequences are severe.”


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