Two officers of the Nigerian Air Force have been dismissed for their alleged involvement in the murder of a police sergeant securing a farmhouse owned by the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu.
The officers, Awua Theophanous and Sunday Paul, were disengaged from the service and handed over to the police after facing disciplinary actions.
The duo and three others, Francis Ochife, Inalegwu Omikpa and Vincent Michael, who is also a dismissed Air Force officer, had invaded Magu’s farmhouse in Abuja to find a huge sum of money reportedly buried in a septic tank within the facility.
During the invasion, the gang allegedly killed a police sergeant, Haruna Sarki, who was guarding the farmhouse.
Speaking to City Round during the week, one of the dismissed Air Force officers, Theophanous, said he did not know the farmhouse belonged to Magu before they carried out the raid.
The 27-year-old father of two said sometime in November 2017, Omikpa met with him at a bar and told him that some stolen money was kept in the farmhouse.
He said Omikpa sought his help on how to recover the funds through the ‘whistle-blowing’ policy so that they would have a share from it.
Theophanous stated that he involved Paul, who contacted an EFCC official, to seek advice on how to recover the money.
He said the EFCC official advised them to be sure of their claim, and ascertain if the money was actually there.
He stated, “I joined Nigerian Air Force in 2012. I was serving at the Logistics Department, Defence Headquarters, Abuja. Omikpa met me at the Mammy market where I was drinking and he told me there was a farmhouse where stolen money was buried.
“In December 2017, I was called to rectify an electrical fault in an office at the Defence Headquarters. While I was there, a senior officer came in and asked Paul to accompany him to the EFCC office to dispatch a letter. I quickly told Paul about the farmhouse and asked him to enquire at the EFCC office how the ‘whistle-blowing’ policy works.
“When he returned, he told me that he spoke with an EFCC official about it and that the man advised him to verify the allegation that money was kept in the farmhouse before the commission would act so that it did not cause it an embarrassment.
“I gave Omikpa feedback. He said the person who gave him the information worked in the farmhouse and that the person was ready to take us to the spot where the money was kept.”
Theophanous, who said he did not know how the policeman was killed, explained that he left the scene when he realised that the police had been alerted to the invasion.
Omikpa, 35, said a friend of his known as Cacidi, who is still at large, also participated in the operation, adding that he was informed about the alleged hidden money by Ochife.
He said, “Ochife told me that there was a container filled with foreign currencies in Magu’s farmhouse. I initially thought it was a lie, but he kept on disturbing me, saying that his informant who lived around Magu’s farmhouse was so sure the money was in the septic tank.
“I then contacted my friend, Theophanous, who was an Air Force officer. I also told another friend, Cacidi, who advised that if we informed the EFCC, the matter would die completely. Cacidi told Michael who was also an Air Force officer.
“On December 12, 2017, we went to the farmhouse in two vehicles. I was outside while Theophanous and his colleagues went into the premises. After a while, I entered and saw a policeman tied to the ground. They also arrested one other security guard.
“Michael was breaking the septic tank when I received a call from Ochife, who was outside, that another policeman outside was calling for reinforcement. We quickly left the place. Cacidi and Michael took two police rifles they found on the premises. They promised to sell the rifles and give us our own share.”
The native of Benue State added that he was on his way from church on January 25, 2018, when he was arrested by the police.
In his account, Ochife, 38, said a motorcycle rider, who resides close to the farmhouse and has access to the facility, divulged the information on the alleged hidden funds to him. He, however, did not mention the name of the motorcyclist.
He said, “The man told me that the owner of the farmhouse had instructed those working in the farmhouse not to use any of the toilets there. He convinced me that there was money hidden inside the compound. I thought I would get some share in reward which would be a very huge amount of money.
“I contacted my friend, Omikpa, and informed him about it. He advised me not to tell anybody else and promised to involve his military friends. He introduced one Cacidi and three military men to me and we went to the farmhouse in two vehicles.”