Police have arrested eight suspected fraudsters posing as government officials.
Standard Gazette gathered that the men posed as officials of the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
It was learned that their intentions were to steal water equipment worth two billion dollars in Okpella, Edo State.
The suspects are Salisu Umar, Ibrahim Mohammed, Yusuf Sambo and Abubakar Dahiru. Others are Godwin Osifo, Paul Moncha, Winner Okojie and Okoro Anthony.
SG gathered that the suspects faked a document using the office of the Minister of Water Resources and that of the Secretary of the government of the Federation.
The purported government officials arrived in the town to seek the permission of the village head to remove the water equipment they claimed had been bought from the Federal government.
The fake letters were sent to the office of the Governor of Edo State, the police commissioner, the traditional head of Okpella and other stakeholders in Edo state.
The letter seen by Standard Gazette, dated 24 February titled "Letter of Evaluation of Scrapped Pipes at Okpilla Dump Site" Sequel to our letter reference No. SGF/GSO/POL/Vol.III/12B dated 14th July 2021.
"I am directed by the Secretary to the government of the Federation (SGF) to write and inform you that MSSR Arect Engineering Limited has been authorized to evacuate the scrapped pipes at Okpella Dump Site.
"The scraped pipes are the properties of the Federal Government which were meant for Okpella Wates Works Project by the then Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund (PTF) under the Chairmanship of His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR which the board was later dissolved by the former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
"All projects not executed or not completed were handed over to the Presidency by the Project Implementation Task Force and the Okpila Water Works was included."
It added, "In view of the above, Your Excellency kindly accords all the necessary assistance and access that may be required to MSSR Arect Engineering Limited in the cause of evacuating the said scrapped pipes."
Another letter dated 31 March 2022 addressed to The Okpella Traditional Council, Edo State, titled 'Letter of Evacuation of Scrapped Pipes at Okpella Dump Site' reads "Our letter reference No. SGF/GSO/VOL.III/172 dated 24th February 2022 is relevant, please.
"I am further directed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) to write and inform you that MSSR Arect Engineering Limited has been authorized to evacuate the scrapped pipes at the Okpella dump site.
"Arising from the meeting held on 29th March 2022 with Arect Engineering Limited and Okpella community to sink six (6) Motorized Borehole at the community with Federal Government Assistance.
In view of the above, therefore, you are kindly requested to accord all the necessary assistance and access that may be required to MSSR Arect Engineering Limited in the cause of evacuation of the said scrapped pipes."
The purported letters were signed by Dr Maurice Nnamdi Mbaeri, Permanent Secretary, General Services Office (GSO) for Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
However, their "perfect plans" went downhill when some of Okpilla's elders notified the police to help verify their authenticity before allowing the suspects to evacuate the equipment.
During police interrogation, it was learned that the letters sent to the Edo state were government were fake.
It was gathered that Salisu Umar is a staff of the Federal Ministry of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs in Abuja and was the mastermind of documents with forged approval signatories.
Salisu was arrested and later named his complices.
Edo State Police Public Relations officer SP Chidi Nwabuzor assured that the 8 suspects would appear In court for stealing, economic sabotage, fraud and forgery.
He commended the people of Okpilla for their promptness and Vigilance.
The police say an extensive investigation will be opened to unravel if the suspects have stolen other Federal government properties in the same manner.©Standard Gazette, 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s publisher is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Standard Gazette with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.