By Kingsley Omonobi & Peter Ofili
ABUJA—Police have arrested three members of a gang that attempted to dupe a top aide to President Muhammadu Buhari and other top Nigerians.
The gang leader, Abdulrahman Shuaibu, 21, stated that he relocated to Abuja from his hometown, Hong, Adamawa State, about a year ago because President Buhari was in power.
Shuaibu, paraded yesterday by the police alongside his accomplices, Isiaku Zambuk, 47, and Hassan Haruna, 35, said that he met the other gang members at the Federal Secretariat, Abuja, and appealed to them for assistance, but that they asked him to join their gang instead.
He said: “Since I joined them, they have been giving me the mobile numbers of ministers, permanent secretaries and directors. Sometimes, we visit ministries and demand to see the minister. If he is too busy to attend to us, he may give us his complimentary cards and through it, we get his number.”
Asked how much he had realised from their various scams, Shuaibu said “N15,000.”
Force Public Relations Officer, DCP Donald Awunah, stated that the gang usually wrote to highly-placed Nigerians soliciting for financial assistance on humanitarian grounds, adding that they often resort to threats and blackmail if they did not receive a favourable response.
He explained that items recovered from the suspects include a mobile phone used to threaten their victims, copies of letters of threat to life addressed to highly-placed Nigerians, copies of fraudulent letters addressed to individuals and cooperate bodies soliciting for monetary assistance for non-existing tragedies and projects.
Also recovered were a list of names and phone numbers of hundreds of personalities in public and the private sectors.
Awunah said that the suspects were tracked and arrested by police operatives attached to the Inspector General of Police Intelligence Response Team, Force Headquarters, Abuja, following “several complaints received from highly-placed persons in Abuja of serious threat to their lives, intimidation and attempts to defraud them of huge sums of money.
“Abdulrahman Shuaibu, who is the leader of the gang, was arrested during a rigorous and painstaking investigation into the crime. His arrest led to the arrest of Zanbuk and Haruna, who are also key members of the syndicate.
“The three suspects confessed to the crime and explained to investigators various roles played by each of them in the perpetration of criminal acts. They will be arraigned in court on completion of investigation.”
Vanguard learned that many important persons had fallen victims to their exploits and paid huge sums of money without informing police.
Sources said a Senator lost over N100 million to them within the past three months and ended up relocating his family to Kaduna, while he checked into an obscure hotel.
The source further said that worse hit by the threats were some governors visiting Abuja for their state allocation.
According to him, “these governors always come here for a jamboree and they spend money recklessly as if tomorrow does not exist.
“These fraudsters always capitalise on that and start bombarding them with threat calls. They also connive with some of their aides in Abuja, who supplies them with all the information needed to threaten their bosses.
“In fact, one of the governors nearly had a heart attack after calls came persistently with threats to expose him and kidnap members of his family.”