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Three Air Force personnel and two civilians, who stormed the farmhouse of the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, in 2017, thinking they would find sacks of foreign currencies buried in septic tank, are now swimming in stormy waters.
The five suspects stormed the farmhouse with hearts full of hope and eyes seeing dollar signs, but they would later leave with deflated hearts and eyes filled with despair and disappointments. After violently gaining access into Magu’s farmhouse, they couldn’t locate any money and also ended up killing one of the policemen guarding the house. The suspects have been identified as Franklin Ochife, Inanegwu Omikpa, Awua Theophilus, Sunday Paul and Vincent Michael.
The suspects hatched the plan of breaking into the farmhouse after a self-acclaimed informant, who allegedly works for Magu, told them that sacks of money were buried in a septic tank. They further fell hook, line and sinker for the story when they heard that the owner of the house had given instructions that nobody should use toilets channelled to the septic tank.
The plans of the suspects were quite simple; to enter the farmhouse, locate the buried money and then report their findings to EFCC. They would then try to activate the whistleblowing policy.
The ‘Whistleblowing’ policy encourages people to voluntarily disclose information about fraud or theft to Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Finance. A whistle-blower who provides information about any financial mismanagement or tip about any stolen funds, is entitled to between 2.5 percent and 5 percent from the recovered funds.
Some Nigerians, who tried it and succeeded, laughed all the way to the banks. Thus, the five men also felt they could make some money by exposing a corrupt government official. Their efforts, however, got a policeman killed and have them staring on a journey to prison.
It would be recalled that in 2017, gunmen at night invaded the bungalow farmhouse of Magu, killing a policeman. The gunmen stormed the farmhouse in Karshi in the Federal Capital Territory about 10 pm and exchanged gunfire with the policemen on sentry duty. A police sergeant was hit and he died instantly. Incidentally, that was the second time that same farmhouse had been attacked.
The gunmen escaped after killing the policeman. Many Nigerians back then thought the attack was connected to Magu’s anti-corruption policies. Nobody knew it was the daring operation of five men trying to make quick money. The suspects didn’t see anything wrong in breaking into another’s person’s property. For them, the end justifies the means.
In fact, the suspects insisted that they didn’t even know that the farmhouse they entered, trying to gather evidence of buried money, to take to the EFCC, actually belonged to the EFCC Chairman. The suspects were arrested by the Inspector General-of Police Special Intelligence Response Team (IRT), headed by a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Abba Kyari. The IRT operatives started investigation since 2017, right after the incident.
Even as the trail was getting cold, the IRT operatives had stubbornly continued to gather fragments of clues and information until they finally narrowed down on the suspects and nailed them. It has been discovered that the suspects after killing the policeman, took away two police rifles.
A police source said: “They told us they got information that the owner of the farm, a top government official, had stolen money, which he brought into the farm in a big container. They were also told that the owner of the farm ordered that the money should be buried in the septic tank in the farm. They also heard that the owner of the farm warned those working for him and living there, never to make use of the toilets in the farm.
“They had tried to get the EFCC involved, but an official told them that they needed to be absolutely sure that the money was in the farm. The EFCC official told them they shouldn’t do anything or drag the EFCC into anything that would make the Commission an object of mockery. They decided to break into the farm to be sure that the money was there before bringing in the EFCC.”
Recollecting how the whole drama started and how they got the information about money buried in septic tank, Ochife (38), married with a child, said: “It all started in November 2017. A cyclist, Peter, living close to Magu’s farm, who had easy access to the farm, told me that a huge sum of money was buried in a septic tank inside the farm. He asked me if I knew how to contact whistle-blowers. He said that the money was so much, and that the owner had warned everyone staying on the farm not to use the toilets.”
Ochife initially doubted the story, but when he heard that the owner warned his workers never to make use of the toilet there, he became convinced that money was truly buried in the septic tank.
He said: “With this information, I became convinced that there was money hidden inside the compound. With the whistle blowing policy still active, I believe I would get 10 percent, which would be quite a huge sum of money.
I contacted my friend, Inanegwu. I told him everything. He said that he would use the military. He said that when the money is discovered, the military would expose it and that the Federal Government would have to play its part.
“Inanegwu brought Cacidi and the military men. We had a meeting at Maraba; we went to the farmhouse in two vehicles. I alighted from the vehicle because I reside close to that house.
I came down and started monitoring events from afar. While I was there, I received a call from the Peter, the informant. He said that I should tell my friends in the farmhouse to leave because one of the mobile policemen, posted as guard to the farmhouse, witnessed what was going on and had called him, that they should alert police. I quickly called Inanegwu and informed him about the development. Peter called me the following day to tell me that one of the policemen guarding the house was dead.”
Omikpa (35), introduced himself as a businessman and student. He is married, with two children. He described his life as being beautiful until he joined friends to storm Magu’s farmhouse in November 2017. He said that, Ochife told him that a friend of his, working in Magu’s house, informed him about a container filled with foreign currencies, buried in a septic tank.
Omikpa said: “I thought it was a lie, but he kept on disturbing me. He said that his informant, who lives in Magu’s house saw some of the money in the septic tank. I then contacted my friend, an Air force personnel, Awua. I explained everything to him. Before then, I had already told my friend, Cacidi.
“Cacidi said that his friend, Vincent, an Air force personnel, could assist us in securing the place. Awua then said that he has a friend, Sunday, who worked with the Department of State Security (DSS) before. He said that he could bring him in. Cacidi said that we needed to be careful and be sure that the money was truly buried on the farm before breaking into the compound.
“On December 12, 2017, we went to the compound in two vehicles. Awua and his friend, entered into the compound. They came out angrily, and when I entered, I saw a policeman tied to the ground. There was another civilian security guard, we also arrested him. And then Vincent started breaking the septic tank. I received a call from Franklin that another policeman, who was outside, was calling the police to the farmhouse.
While we were leaving, two police rifles were on the ground, Cacidi and Vincent took the rifles. They said they would sell them and give us our share of the sale. I didn’t know that the policeman, who was tied, died. I later received a call from Franklin that one of the policemen died. I saw the story in the news. On January 25 2018, I was on my way back from church, when I was arrested. I was shocked, and I wanted to know why I was arrested.”
Awua (27), also married with two children, said: “I enlisted in 2012. I am currently a corporal, serving at the Defense Headquarters, Abuja, Logistic Department. I work as an engineer. My friend met me at Mammy Market, where I was drinking and told me about a farmhouse, where cows were being reared. He told me that stolen government money was buried inside the farm.
“He said that he needed a whistling blowing assistance. I told him that I didn’t know any one that works with the EFCC that I could link him up with. I didn’t know that the farm he was talking about belonged to the EFCC Chairman. On December 2017, I was called to rectify an electrical fault at office, and while I was working, a Brigadier General came in and told the Chief Clerk that he wanted someone to accompany him to the office of the EFCC to dispatch a letter. The Chief Clerk called Sergeant Sunday Paul, who is also a clerk, working in that office.
“I called Sergeant Paul, and told him that Inanegwu told me about a farm where money was buried. I begged him to find out how the whistle blowing policy works. When he returned, he told me that he spoke with an EFCC official, who advised him to make sure that money was truly buried in the farm, to avoid causing the EFCC an embarrassment. I called Inanegwu, and told him that I was able to establish contact with the EFCC, and that the EFCC insisted that our information must be 100 percent correct. He said that if I was in doubt, the person who brought the information works in the farm.
“He said that the worker was ready to take us to the exact spot where the money was buried. We went to the farm to confirm, but on reaching there, I discovered that Cacidi was on a different mission. I called my Sergeant and told him that we must the leave place. We entered a vehicle and left. I went back to my house, not knowing that a policeman died. I was at the office when the Provost Department came to arrest me.”
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