The decision of a security guard to steal God’s money recently boomeranged as he was nabbed at Idi-Iroko border town, between Nigeria and Republic of Benin, while preparing to flee the country to Dubai with his family members.
The security guard, Pius Edward (35), who was employed by the Anglican Diocese, Ibadan, was attached to Bishop’s Court, Bodija, Ibadan. The Ibadan Anglican Diocese had just concluded a programme tagged “Jesus Festival” on November 3, 2013 and all the cash and cheques given by donors, totaling about N13million, were put in a bag, with the thought of taking them to the bank the following day.
Unknown to the diocese, Pius had a well-constructed plan about the cash, and before daybreak, the whole bag and its content had disappeared from the accountant’s office where it was put.
What baffled everyone was the mystery behind how the bag was taken out. This was because the door was not broken, neither was any key missing. The jigsaw puzzIe was however put together when other security guards were summoned and Pius was nowhere to be found.
Giving an insight into how the search for Pius began, the Oyo State Commissioner of Police, Mohammed Indabawa, during a press briefing on Tuesday, November 19, said that when the case of the missing money was reported, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Oyo/Ogbomoso annex, led by the officer in charge, DSP Olusola Aremu, was given the task of unravelling the culprit behind the theft.
The police commissioner added that the painstaking investigation of the SARS team, which took them to different parts of Ogun State, such as Oja-Odan, Odeda and Idi-Iroko, revealed that the suspect had connived with an immigration officer attached to Ogun State Command, who was frantically helping him to flee from the country, even after Pius opened up to the law enforcement agent that he stole the money he was carrying about.
Pius, who first fled to his mother-in-law’s place in Ota, Ogun State, later lodged his wife in a hotel at Odeda town before he proceeded to Republic of Benin to buy a Honda Accord car from his loot. The immigration officer also reportedly sold one Mitsubishi Gallant car to the suspect and offered to keep both cars for him, advising him that he could always fall back on them if his trip to Dubai did not work out.
The immigration officer was also alleged to have taken N490,000 from Pius to process Dubai visa for him, his wife and son, which ordinarily would have cost him less than N150,000.
After being on his trail for two weeks, the SARS operatives eventually traced Pius to Idi-iroko where he lodged in a hotel. When searched, a sum of N656,000 in different denominations and some 100 dollar notes were found on him, while he claimed to have thrown the cheques away with the Ghana-must-go bag.
In an interview with the Cross River State-born suspect, he confessed to have committed the offence he was accused of. Narrating how he carried out his paln, Pius said: “I used the opportunity I had to take the money out of the window. The cash was N2.5million and I threw the bag with cheques over the fence. After stealing the money, I went home in the early hours of the day, around 5a.m., and woke my wife up, telling her to get the children ready for us to leave immediately. She started asking questions but I threatened that I would leave her behind if she continued to ask me stupid questions. She had no choice than to follow me.
“We went to my mother-in-law in Ota, Ogun State. I told her a lie that I stole N300,000 from my boss and she said I should return the money, stating that the money was not worth it. However, I refused to take it back. I told her that I wanted to travel out of Nigeria and she linked with an Immigration official to help me.
“I used part of the money to process my passport and those of my wife and child. I also obtained visa to Dubai. I decided to change the name on the passport as advised by the immigration officer so that it would not be easy to track me through the airport.
“I also went to Cotonou in Republic of Benin to buy a car so as not to arouse suspicion if I took the whole money through the airport though I knew my chances were 50-50. My visa was approved the very day I was arrested. The immigration officer also sold one Tokunbo car to me.”
The 53-year-old mother-in-law, Mrs Adebisi Idowu, said she was not at home when her son-in-law came to her residence. “When I came back, he told me that he stole N300,000 from his uncle and I reprimanded him, asking him to return the money. The following morning, one of his relations came but I didn’t know what they discussed. Pius later left with his family. Around noon, he called me and said he wanted to travel and I took him to a man I knew.”
The Deputy Registrar of the Diocese, Barrister Tunde Oluponna expressed the joy of the diocese on the apprehension of the suspect, saying that it showed that God would fight His cause anytime.