A senior counsel in the defence team of Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has lost $200,000 in a popular hotel in Asaba, the Delta State capital, it was learnt at the weekend.
It was gathered that the black market value of the stolen money was about N44.6 million.
But the Delta State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Baba Alkali Usman, confirmed to The Nation that $100,000 was stolen.
It was unclear what the money was meant.
The three-man panel of the State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal led by Justice Nasir Gunmi is set to deliver judgment today in the two petitions by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Labour Party (LP) challenging the declaration of Okowa of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as winner of the April 11, 2015 governorship election by the independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The defence lawyers to the governor were lodged at the hotel adjacent to the tribunal throughout the duration of the election petition.
The lead lawyers in the defence team are: Dr. Alex Izinyon (SAN) representing Okowa (the first respondent); Mr. A.T. Kehinde (SAN) for the PDP and Damien Dodo (SAN) for the third respondent (INEC).
It was learnt that the money was stolen from Chalet 111 in the hotel, where one of the lawyers resided.
It was learnt that four suspects – two females and two males – were arrested and detained by the police over the theft.
Of the four, a female believed to be the girlfriend of one of the suspects was also arrested.
The suspects are Uchechukwu, Florence , Favour and Chidozie.
It was learnt that the suspects were granted N180,000 bail.
One of the male suspect paid N80,000. Another suspect coughed out N50, 000.
The last two suspects, who were unable to pay the bail sum, were held until their relatives paid N50,000.
The suspects were kept at the Police ‘A’ Division for three weeks before they were transferred to the state police headquarters, where they spent another three weeks.
A source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, revealed that the girlfriend to one of the suspects was apprehended on the ground that the money might have been hidden in her house.
The Nation gathered that subsequent search on the lady’s home by the police did not produce any incriminating evidence.
It was gathered that the management of the hotel, unsatisfied with the conduct of the investigation by the police, petitioned the state police commissioner, who ordered a transfer of the matter to the State Criminal Investigating Department (SCID).
The suspects were released last Thursday.
The police commissioner confirmed that $100,000 was stolen at the hotel, adding that the hotel’s chief security officer lodged a complaint to the police.
He said the police were constrained to act because the lawyer refused to formally lodge a complaint, adding that the police had to release the suspects.
Alkali debunked the claim that the police received N180,000 as bail, stressing that bail was free and that his men would not indulge in such criminal activity.
His words: ‘We have received a case of stolen money from Grand Hotel by the chief security officer of the hotel, who reported that one of his guests lost the sum of $100,000.We incidented the matter at the Police ‘A’ Division and requested that those who worked overnight and those who had the keys to the chalet and those on night duty on that day appear at the police station.
“We visited the scene of the incident. When we did not see the complainant, we had to release those four persons pending when the complainant will come and formally lodge a complaint.
“But the CSO petitioned the Police ‘A’ Division and the matter was transferred to the State Criminal investigation Department. We released the four suspects when the complainant still failed to turn up. We held four suspects .Two of them – members of staff of the hotel, but the other two are not members of staff. The only connection is that one of them is the boyfriend to one of the suspects.
“On the issue of paying N180, 000 as bail, as far as I am concerned, the officer in charge says he does not know anything about it.”
Source: The Nation