Bundles of mint-fresh dollars valued at over $250,000 (about N40 million) that reportedly disappeared late last month in Governor Godswill Akpabio’s bedroom at the Akwa Ibom state governor’s lodge in Asokoro, Abuja, have been recovered intact.
News website, Saharareporters, had last month reported that the missing dollars, stashed in drawers in the governor’s bedroom, were stolen while he was away attending a dinner with President Goodluck Jonathan at the Aso Rock Villa a fortnight ago.
But, PREMIUM TIMES gathered in Abuja that the missing money was recovered a week after by an electrician invited to carry out minor repairs on one of the air conditioners inside the governor’s bedroom at the lodge.
Mr. Akpabio, who is well known for his profligacy with state funds, had reportedly ordered the dismissal of three stewards working at the lodge, suspecting they had helped themselves with the bundles.
But, unknown to the governor, the trio knew nothing about the missing money. The culprit, senior Akwa Ibom officials close to the governor said, was actually one of the drivers attached to the office of the governor’s Special Representative in Abuja, who is the caretaker of the lodge.
The driver had reportedly sneaked into the governor’s room and removed the bundles from where they were kept. But because of the security around that section of the lodge, he cleverly tucked them inside the compartment of the air conditioner till a more convenient time he would be able to smuggle his fortune out.
Officials who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES said a week after the money was declared missing, it was observed that one of the air conditioners in the governor’s bedroom appeared to have malfunctioned.
The driver behind the missing money, ironically, was detailed to fetch an electrician to fix the failing AC ahead of the governor’s next visit. The electrician was called as he had handled similar repairs in the past at the lodge.
On their way back to the lodge, according to officials, the driver confessed to the workman how he had left “something” valuable inside the air conditioner, and which he expected him to retrieve for him, promising a huge reward if he did so successfully.
However, because of the extra security arrangement in place around the lodge following the incident, it was learnt that it proved difficult for the electrician to deliver on his promise, as one of the security operatives working at the lodge was promptly detailed to supervise the repairs.
On opening the air conditioner for repairs, the electrician was reportedly surprised that true to the driver’s earlier hint, there was a carefully wrapped parcel inside the system, which blocked the vents, preventing the system from functioning normally.
The electrician was said to have promptly alerted the security operative detailed to work with him about his find; and on opening the parcel, it was discovered that bundles of the missing money were actually inside.
Afraid he may be held as a suspect in the episode, the electrician reportedly confessed to the operative about the favour the driver had sought from him on their way to the lodge.
The money was promptly handed over to the governor’s aide, who on breaking the good news to the governor, was ordered to give the electrician N1million cash as reward, while the dismissed stewards should be recalled immediately, though they were redeployed to other assignments. The fate of the driver remained unclear at the time of the report.
SOURCE: PREMIUM TIMES
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