Burglars have made an unprecedented break-in at the Kwara State Ministry of Finance, carting away undisclosed amounts of money as well as all documents, including their electronic backups, which detailed government transactions since 2003.
A top government functionary told SaharaReporters that the burglars first attempted to break into the Accountant General’s office in the Ministry in the early hours of Friday, September 21, but the guards and the burglary-proof doors foiled the attack.
The attackers returned on Saturday night armed with different tools grenades and even a power generator with which they broke into the offices where the documents and money were kept, the source said.
The burglary story first surfaced on Twitter, where a whistle blower mentioned it last Tuesday, prompting a terse response from Dr. Muideen Akorede, Governor Abdulfattah Ahmed’s spokesman, who dubbed the incident a “robbery” that is investigation.
Akorede also made tacit confirmation of the foiled first attempt when, in a tweet, he wondered why someone would break into a place and return two days later, and called the document theft an effort to blackmail the government and its officials.
He severally parried questions asked by the whistle blower and others regarding the incident. For instance, he was quiet on why the government has treated the matter like an official secret and why security was not beefed up after the foiled first attack.
More than a week after the incident, neither the state government nor the police have spoken officially on the matter and it is not clear whether any arrest has been made.
Our source observed that having failed in their first attempt, the burglars returned to the same place in the early hours of Saturday September 22, this time armed with sophisticated weapons and equipment including a power-generating machine and grenades with which they blew up the door and other encumbrances.
Furthermore, he said that in the course of forcing their way into the place, the attackers injured and disarmed the two guardsmen, one of whom jumped the fence and ran to the Police Command (that night) to seek help to ward off the invaders. But rather than follow the guards man to the place, the police reportedly directed him to go and report the incident at Division C at Oja Oba in Ilorin, then to Area A which is in charge of the place, before returning to the State Police Command.
In the end, the sophisticated burglars successfully broke into the safe, took away all the hard currencies and Naira kept there, and, most importantly, made away with all the documents regarding financial transactions since 2003. They also broke into the computer room and retrieved all the electronic backups of all the documents they had stolen.
The incident, according to another source, is fuelling speculations about official cover-up of certain transactions that have been the subject of public scrutiny such as local government joint accounts, contracts and SUBEB funds, with critics drawing a parallel with a similar occurrence at the SGBN a few years ago when the Nuhu Ribadu-led EFCC was probing the insider trading that wrecked the bank.
The burglary, coming amid numerous investigations into the tenure of former Governor Bukola Sarakis in Kwara State, the SUBEB funds, as well as police claims in the N9.2b loan scam that Saraki used shares bought with state funds to stand surety for his private company are lending credence to the speculations of a cover up.
Saraki has denied any wrongdoing in the case, which he labels as political blackmail being sponsored by his traducers. The police are yet to charge him in the case, but the Police Commissioner heading the Special Fraud Unit (SFU), Mr Tunde Ogunsakin, was reported as saying recently that investigations into the case have reached top gear and that it will soon be charged to court.