Cyber Crime: Police Arrest 12 Over N30bn Interswitch Security Breach

The Nigeria Police Force has successfully conducted the investigation, arrest, and arraignment of 12 suspects in connection with Interswitch Thirty Billion Naira (N30q,000,000,000.00) security breach.

The Inspector-General of Police, IGP Kayode Adeolu Egbetokun, disclosed this on Thursday, while briefing the press on the achievements of the Force, as part of activities of a conference with Strategic Police Managers, held at the Goodluck Jonathan International Peacekeeping Centre, Force Headquarters, Abuja.

The Police Chief disclosed that the feat was one of many achieved by the Nigeria Police Force National Cyber Crime Centre (NPF-NCCC) in its quest to tackle the scourge of cyber-related crimes.

In addition to the arrest of the 12 suspects, operatives also conducted the arrest, investigation, and arraignment of 1 suspect in connection with a Two Million US Dollars ($2,000,000.00) financial security breach.

Their efforts led to the recovery of 13 cars, 43 houses, and landed properties, One Billion, Seven Hundred and Twenty-Four Million Naira (N1,724,000,000.00) cash, and another sum of One Hundred Million Naira (N100,000,000.00) digital assets trashed and frozen.

In the same vein, operatives successfully carried out investigation, arrest of suspects and recovery of funds in a case of fraud and breach of trust involving One Billion Two Hundred Million Naira (N1,200,000,000.00) for the establishment of an e-governance platform for the Enugu State Government where the sum of One Billion, Ninety-Seven Million, Seven Hundred Thousand Naira (N1,097,700,000.00) was recovered.

The IGP also highlighted the successes recorded in the Force’s fight against illegal bunkering in the oil sector through the operations of the Special Task Force on Petroleum and Illegal Bunkering (STFPIB).

The STFPIB, in the months of January and February 2024, arrested a total of 59 suspects and recovered 2 vessels, 6 trucks, 1 Toyota Camry vehicle, 200 sacks of adulterated
automotive gas oil (AGO), 80 drums of adulterated AGO, 40 Gee Pee tanks of adulterated AGO, and sixty-62,000 litres of adulterated AGO.

One of their prominent achievements, the IGP revealed, was the arrest of 23 male suspects and recovery of vessel MT Kali following intelligence received from a private security contractor employed by the NNPC Ltd that the vessel and its occupants were involved in tampering pipeline and stealing crude oil at the Ekeni Area, Southern Ijaw LGA of Bayelsa State.

The Task Force promptly responded, successfully arrested the suspects, and took them into custody along with the vessel. All suspects have been charged to court, and now facing prosecution.

IGP Egbetokun commended the efforts of the personnel of the EOD-CBRN Base 36 Awka, stationed at the Military Forward Operational Base, Anambra State, who successfully recovered five IEDs from an unregistered Lexus Jeep following the neutralization of three (3) IPOB members in Ihiala, Anambra State.

He also commended the personnel of the EOD-CBRN in Oyo State Police Command, whose prompt response and expertise in managing exosive incidents across the nation, with particular reference to the regrettable explosion incident at Ibadan on 16 January, have significantly contributed to mitigating such occurrences reducing avoidable loss of lives.

Regarding other crimes, Egbetokun further revealed that within the period under review, the Force recorded 35 cases of terrorist/ secessionist attacks, 302 cases of murder, 111 cases of armed robbery, 172 cases of kidnapping, 67 cases of banditry and 15 cases of unlawful possession of firearms.

He said operatives of the NPF arrested 814 suspects for their participation in various crimes, rescued 107 kidnapped victims, and recovered 166 various firearms, 1,074 ammunition, and 41 vehicles.

He further highlighted some unique reports from Commands and Formations across the country, starting with the FCT, where the security breaches witnessed in late 2023 and early 2024, necessitated the launch of the Special Security Squad (SIS) on 17th January, which is aimed at fortifying the security landscape in the capital city.

Among the successes recorded following the launch include the arrest of one Idris Ishaku, aka Yellow, a notorious kidnap kingpin in the Bwari axis, and 2 others, who form part of a network of spies providing information on potential victims to other criminal gangs and syndicates.

In Rivers State, police operatives responded to a distress call about an attack on a passenger bus by unknown gunmen. A fierce gun battle between the security operatives and the kidnappers led to the rescue of 10 of the victims who have all been reunited with their families, while effort is ongoing to locate and rescue the other missing victims.

Furthermore, SIS operatives in Plateau State, following the recent attack in Mangu LGA, swung into action to prevent further attacks. Their operations led to the arrest of 9 suspects in connection with the attacks, as well as the recovery of dangerous weapons from them.

In the same vein, a raid operation conducted on a hotel in Tafa Area, Kaduna State by operatives of the State Police Command, led to the arrest of one Bello Mohammed, with the sum of 2,250,000, suspected to be part of ransom collected from families of kidnapped victims. The suspect, whose bribe offer of N1m was rejected by the DPO, Tafa Division, confessed to being a member of the gang that kidnapped the family members of one Barr. Ariyo in Bwari FCT.

In Ekiti State, following the unfortunate murder of 2 traditional rulers and the kidnap of 5 school children, 3 teachers, and a bus driver, a joint operation comprising of officers of Ekiti and Ondo State Police Commands, who stormed a forest led to the arrest of 13 suspects in connection with the crimes. Several items, including cutlass, axes, daggers, motorcycles, mobile phones, 1 vow, and other food items were recovered, while the rescued victims were reunited with their families.

On the efforts of the Police with respect to elections, the IGP said the recent peaceful and successful conduct of the run-off and bye-elections across 26 states of Nigeria on February 3rd, 2024, is another evidence of result-oriented proof of the strategic deployments of the Nigeria Police Force and resilient support for our democratic process.

Whilst the majority of the elections proceeded smoothly, there were pockets of challenges encountered in some areas, to which the Police swiftly responded, making several arrests to prevent the disruption of the electoral process.

In total, 14 suspects, including 2 public officials, were apprehended across the affected States.

In Akwa Ibom State, a locally made pistol was recovered, while a suspected thug was lynched by members of the public in Kaduna State. The arrested suspects will be handed over to the INEC upon the conclusion of investigations for further actions in line with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 (as amended).

IGP Egbetokun said that apart from highlighting and celebrating the Force’s wins and achievements during the period under review, “we must also seize this opportunity to reflect upon our shortcomings and obvious gaps in our performance … to enable us set the appropriate context for taking necessary and decisive steps towards doing things differently in order to achieve our statutory mandate and responsibilities”.

“We understand the gravity of the challenges we face and the responsibility we bear in ensuring the safety and well-being of every citizen. I assure you that the Nigeria Police Force remains resolute in its commitment to protecting lives and property, and we are actively working to address the security threats facing our nation. By fostering stronger partnerships with communities, leveraging intelligence-led approaches, and enhancing our operational capabilities, we are dedicated to confronting these challenges head-on and restoring peace and stability across the country. The safety of our people is our utmost priority, and we pledge to continue undauntedly in safeguarding our beloved nation” the IGP said.

Participants at the conference are expected to discuss in-depth plans for the forthcoming Police Week 2024/Award and Commendation Ceremony to be held in honour of Police Officers (both serving and retired) who have distinguished themselves at their various service posts, as well as the forthcoming 14th Biennial Police Games (BIPOGA) tagged “Oluyole 2024” scheduled to hold at Ibadan, Oyo State later this month.

The latter segment of the conference will be dedicated to collaborative brainstorming; focusing on specific strategic and tactical measures to be implemented across various Commands and Formations to fortify the Force’s operational strategies and enhance her administrative initiatives, addressing matters related to professionalism and enhancing service delivery standards.

A total of 139 senior police officers, made up of 6 Deputy Inspectors-General (DIGs), 38 Assistant Inspectors General (AIGs), 88 Commissioners of Police (CPs), and 5 Deputy Police Commissioners representing their Commands, were in attendance at the conference.

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