I wanted to blow the whistle but decided to take N30m as my 10 percent
By CHIOMA IGBOKWE
The recently introduced Federal Government’s policy on whistleblowers has not only begun to yield positive results but has equally started manifesting the flipside of the initiative, put in place to get Nigerians buy-in and take ownership of the fight against corruption.
While controversy is still trailing the last whistleblower’s discovery of large amounts of foreign and local currencies totaling over N13 billion and recovered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), in an apartment at Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos, nemesis has caught up with a 40-year-old pastor identified as Alfred Andrew who allegedly stole thousands of dollars from the house of his employer. He was said to have used a spare key that was misplaced to gain entrance into his boss’ bedroom where he discovered bundles of foreign currencies.
He is assisting policemen attached to the Intelligence Response Team (IRT), Abuja to trace and recover the stolen foreign currencies, which he has since converted to naira.
According to a police source, on May 6, Pastor Andrew’s victim, a businessman identified as Benedict Emmanuel who lives at Gwarimpa Housing Estate, Abuja realized that some of his foreign currencies totaling N30million were missing and he decided to search everyone in the house.
It was then he discovered that Andrew, the security man whose monthly salary was N25, 000 was in possession of an IPhone 7 worth about N430, 000. Also found in his room were undisclosed amount of foreign currencies, bundles of naira and expensive designers clothes which he bought recently.
Emmanuel thereafter alerted operatives of IRT who picked Andrew up immediately. At the police station, he allegedly confessed to the crime and about N24 million was found in his bank account. He also took the police to an apartment he rented in another part of Abuja where his girlfriend lives. She was also found with expensive phones, which she claimed Andrew gave to her.
Realizing that his game was up, Andrew a native of Bunguru in Bauchi State said the sight of dollars charmed him. “I was employed by Oga Emmanuel three years ago and since then my salary had been N25, 000 a month. I can barely save money to send home to my parents and I believed God for open doors.
“That was why I assumed that it was God that made it possible that I found that key. Sometime in March, I was sweeping the compound and saw the key on the floor. I just decided to try and find the owner when I discovered that it could open the door to my employer’s house.
“Since no one was at home, I decided to check it out! I went upstairs and entered my Oga’s room. While I was checking the wardrobe, some documents fell from the top of the wardrobe. I now took a chair and climbed in order to return the documents. It was then I noticed different foreign currencies and coins including South African currency.
“It was then I intensified effort in searching inside the wardrobe and discovered bundles of foreign currencies. I tried my best to resist the urge to take
the money or alert the EFCC. But on a second thought, I realized that some of the whistle blowers are dead or on the run. We don’t know who to trust in this country. This was why I decided to take my own 10percent from the money I saw.
“Several bundles were sealed with a transparent wrapping sheet, the way they do it in movies. I even called one man and he told me that a wrap like that contains about N130,000,000 if converted. I did not touch that one because it was sealed.
“On the first day that I discovered the money, I took few pieces from one bundle and when I got to my room, I discovered that it was about 30 pieces. I prayed to God that he would not notice and luckily he did not notice because two days later, I went back and discovered that he had removed some from the same bundle.
“Since he was also taking from the money, I joined him and was gathering some and when I converted the money, it was about N24million. I immediately paid it into my account because I was afraid that anyone could find it in my bag.
I also discovered that each time he travels out of the country and returns, the money will increase in size”, he confessed.
Safe in the bank, Andrew also bought a brand new IPhone 7 worth N410, 000 for himself and IPhone 7 plus worth N430, 000 for his girlfriend. “I have suffered enough, so I decided to change my wardrobe. I bought new latest phones, designer clothes and rented an apartment in town. I was not able to wear any of the clothes before I was arrested. Police collected everything from me and I have returned the money in my account to my boss.”
On his arrest, Andrew said he was preparing to transfer the new ones he stole to the bank when suddenly; the man woke up and ordered that they should lock the gate as he was looking for his money. “I was terrified because I never saw it coming. I wanted to move out the money and clothes that very day. His sister who is a security personnel started searching everyone in the compound. It was the phone they saw with me that blew my cover. They searched the whole house and discovered everything.
“They packed my international passport, my ATM cards, bible and everything I had because I was living with them before handing me over to the police. I even threatened my boss that I am going to tell the police about the money I saw in his house and he said the money does not belong to him.”
On why he chose to steal from his boss, Andrew said he was bitter that after working for three years, he was yet to get salary increment. “I was shocked when I saw all those money and yet they find it difficult to pay us good salary. His wife can never give us food even though they promised to feed us. It got so bad that I am the one feeding the dog in the house. When I started working for him, we agreed that they will increase our salary every year but they didn’t. I did not resign because there was no job in the country.
“I wanted to be a whistle blower but I do not trust anyone. My plan was to hang around till I find out the source of the money but unfortunately I was discovered.
My initial plan was to continuously check the money whether it is increasing or decreasing but each time I enter the room, I will be tempted to take some. The money was too much, that is why he did not notice that I was taking money for some months. I know what I did is wrong that’s why am begging for forgiveness.”
When further queried if he had done anything for his family, Andrew said that he couldn’t because they would have discovered that it was stolen. “My mother is a disciplined woman and she knows that my salary is N25, 000. Most importantly, my father is a retired military man. It is because I have not got a good job or found a good wife that I am still single at 40.
“After graduating from Government Secondary School, Bunguru in 1998, I gained admission into University of Jos where I studied Mass Communication and Information Technology. After university, I decided to go into the ministry and I started with Christ Embassy. I attended most of their Bible schools and while I was at it, I got jobs that were not paying me much.
“In 2008, I relocated to Abuja and went to Dunamis Bible School. I now went back to Evangelical Fire Ministry at Sani Abacha Estate in Abuja where I was employed as a pastor.
“I worked with them even when they moved over to Lanta in Plateau State but their ministry was not growing so it affected my salary. I relocated to Lagos where one of my relatives linked me with Oga Emmanuel, the man that I was working for before I was arrested.”
When asked if he invested the stolen money in the church, Andrew said that he was generous to the church. “I was very generous to the church because I know that one day I will go back and become a full time pastor.”