• Threat letter undergoing forensic examination
Forty eight hours after a security breach was recorded at the Zone 7, Abuja, office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), indications have emerged that some high-profile suspects may have masterminded the dawn attack. It will be recalled that some gunmen had, about 5:00am on Wednesday, attacked the 30A, Harper Street, Zone 7, office of the anti-graft agency.
The target of the assailants, according to the EFCC, was one of its top investigators, Mr. Ishaku Sharu, who is the Head of Foreign Exchange Malpractices Fraud Section. Interestingly, Wednesday’s dawn attack came a few weeks after one of the commission’s top investigators, Austin Okwor, escaped death by the whiskers, after a vicious attack in Port-Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, left him severely wounded.
The attackers, who were repelled by security operatives guarding the building, according to a statement by the commission’s spokesman, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, had dropped a letter containing threat to kill Sharu. As the anti-graft agency begins investigation into the incident, Saturday Telegraph’s investigation has revealed that some high-profile suspects, who are either facing trial, or being investigated on alleged corruption and money laundering cases, may be behind the Wednesday’s attack.
A competent security source, who spoke in confidence with Saturday Telegraph, said Sharu’s “sin” is his refusal to compromise his job. The source further claimed, that the “overwhelming” evidence the top investigator may have gathered around politically- exposed persons (PEPs) undergoing investigation, may have unsettled the affected suspects, whose identity had yet to be ascertained due to ongoing probe. However, it was gathered that the anti-graft agency is narrowing down on some recent cases being investigated by Sharu.
“In this kind of situation, you can’t rule out anything. While we are taking a second look at all the high-profile cases that he had handled in the past; we are also paying special focus on recent ones,” the source said. Apart from PEPs, Sharu also coordinates the investigation of senior retired military officers.
The source said: “Obviously, Ishaku Sharu was their target, because of the sensitive unit he heads, which oversees investigation of some politically exposed individuals under investigation/trial, who have (allegedly) looted public treasury.
“Don’t also forget that he is in charge of investigation of some senior retired military officers, who have questions to answer on the (alleged) procurement fraud in the military. “We are also aware some senior military officers are not happy with the outcome of some investigations he carried out which indicted some retired senior military officers. You know that in military circles, there is esprit de corps. So, the feeling is that some serving senior officers are afraid that a fate similar to the one that befell their retired colleagues may await them.
“They are aware that Sharu cannot be compromised and so the only option is for him to be intimidated. Although he has those working with him, it was deliberate that the death threat note was addressed to him.” Asked if Sharu had received threat messages in the past, the source said: “That is not necessary now.”
Another source, who spoke in similar vein, said a directive had since been issued, for a watertight security around the Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, as well as top investigators at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja, and zonal offices. It was further gathered that the police high command, might deploy more men to boost existing security arrangements at EFCC.
“I can assure you that security around Acting Chairman and top investigating officers, had been heightened. “I heard that the police high command has also given directive for additional armed personnel to be drafted within and around the commission’s headquarters and other locations, to forestall any eventuality,” he said.
This was as Saturday Telegraph learnt that the threat to life letter packaged in a white envelope, was being subjected to “forensic examination” by experts. Meanwhile, a visit to the zone 7 office that was attacked, showed that armed Mobile policemen, as well as operatives from the anti-bomb unit of the force, were still present, as visitors entering the building were thoroughly searched.
Part of the EFCC’s statement on the dawn attack, had read: “A major security breach was recorded at the headquarters of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, in the early hours of Wednesday, August 16, 2017, as unknown gunmen attacked the office located at Wuse Zone 7, Abuja.
“The group of heavily armed bandits invaded the office about 05.00 hours and began shooting into the premises, damaging vehicles parked on the premises in the process. However, the attack was repelled by guards on duty.
“The hoodlums escaped in a getaway vehicle but not without leaving a message; a white envelope dropped by the fleeing attackers was found to contain a death threat addressed to Ishaku Sharu, a senior investigator with the Commission…”
In a telephone conversation with Saturday Telegraph yesterday, the commission’s spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, neither confirmed nor denied security beef-up around Magu and others. He said: “There is nothing like improving or not improving on security; we have always been conscious of security.”