A quartet of scrap metal collectors foraging for food at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic breached a gated duplex in a residential neighbourhood southeast of Abuja city centre and hauled away $4 million cash linked to two federal civil servants, Peoples Gazette can report based on documents and interviews with top law enforcement officials briefed on the matter.
Our masthead learnt how the theft and the revelation that well-heeled Nigerians are still hoarding vast quantities of mysterious cash indoors — despite broadly publicised recoveries of similar salt aways in recent years — startled officials working on the case.
Aisha Sadiq Odariko, a manager in charge of an enterprise risk unit at the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), and Mohammed Kyari Dikwa, a retired permanent secretary at the Federal Ministry of Finance, have been the subject of a sprawling but concealed criminal investigation by federal authorities for their role in stockpiling about $76 million cash of unexplained origin, The Gazette learnt.
At the heart of the investigation is whether Messrs Odariko and Kyari Dikwa conspired to run an expansive fraud ring as federal officials, as well as the whereabouts of the remaining $72 million that Ms Odariko allegedly told a federal agent was left after the burglars stole $4 million from the $76 million stash.
“She told detectives that there was $76 million in the building, out of which the boys stole $4 million,” an official familiar with the investigation said. “While about $2 million was recovered from the burglars, we still need to understand how she and her allies were able to quickly move the remaining $72 million and where they moved it to.”
Mr Kyari Dikwa, from Borno, once acted as accountant-general of the federation under President Muhammadu Buhari and retired from the civil service just before some of the hidden cash was looted. The background of his relationship with Mrs Odariko was unclear, although officials said they were both romantically involved, citing knowledge provided by their driver.
Mr Kyari Dikwa’s public profile touted his role in fostering enduring government reforms like the introduction of Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS), Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS), Treasury Single Account (TSA), Asset Tracing Team (ATT), Whistleblowing Policy, Fiscal Sustainability Plan (FSP) and Strategic Revenue Growth Initiative (SRGI), among others.