A TIMELY intervention of the Department of State Services (DSS) has led to the arrest of Internet fraudsters, working in collaboration with an employee in the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF), to steal N4.5 billion. The amount was realised from the Treasury Single Account (TSA).
Within the last two months, several arrests have been made, including a suspected recruiter for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a foreign terrorist group, and 19 other criminals suspected of committing various crimes and acts of economic sabotage.
A statement issued in Abuja by the DSS spokesman Tony Opuiyo yesterday said the arrest of the four suspects, led by one Sunny Okoh , was a major breakthrough in carrying out their mandate of providing actionable intelligence that would lead to crackdown on such threats.
He said: “A credibility problem would have arisen over the TSA policy if these hackers had succeeded in their plan and thus lent credence to the critics of the policy that it ought not to have been introduced and implemented.”
He said the suspects had already been handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for further investigation and prosecution .
According to the statement, “The suspected fraudsters intended to use a software they had sourced and codes released to them … to hack government accounts in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and defraud the government of this huge sum”, thereby creating a credibility problem for the financial policy.
The DSS said they had in custody a suspected recruiter for the ISIS, who was arrested in Kano. He said a 400-level Information and Media Technology student of the Federal University of Technology Minna , the suspected recruiter was arrested on January 17, 2016, after intelligence revealed his moves to indoctrinate and recruit vulnerable youths in the country. He was said to have recruited three persons who were now training in Libya, along with another suspect.
Also in Daura the DSS intercepted the activities of another terrorist cell affiliated to ISIS and arrested some members . “This group was discovered in an active stage, as its members were already coordinating themselves for attacks in Katsina and Kano States,” the DSS said.
The arrests which according to the service spread across the north, central and southern regions , included the apprehension of a 17-year-old in Kwara State, who had planned with a friend “to carry out coordinated lone-wolf attacks on selected populated targets in Nigeria preferably worship or recreation venues.”
The suspect had hitherto been communicating with foreign extremist elements, while sourcing online terrorist training and support.
In Kwara, one of the kidnappers suspected to be part of the gang that took elder statesman Olu Falae , was killed with another unidentified member of the group, on February 8 in Jebba, as they tried to escape after a shootout with the operatives.
According to the service, between December 2015 and February 2015, syndicated kidnap gangs spanning different regions in the country, especially Kebbi, Zamfara, Niger, Nasarawa, Abuja, Oyo and Osun States, have been neutralised ..
In the same vein, the DSS said it arrested one person for pipeline vandalism in Bayelsa State.The statement noted that the suspect “confessed to vandalising several pipelines in the state, including the 24 Agoda/Brass Oil pipeline at Idema community in Ogbia Local Council of Bayelsa State.”