The Rivers State Police Command has recovered ₦60,250,000 cash belonging to a bank in Port Harcourt.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Administration) Uche Anozia broke the news at a briefing in Port Harcourt, Monday night.
Anozia, who is the acting police chief, following the elevation of the last Commissioner of Police (CP), Foluso Adebanjo to Deputy Inspector-General of Police(DIG), and his redeployment, said the recovery followed a report by a Port Harcourt Supermarket guard who saw in its premises a vehicle containing the cash.
He said two banks Zenith and Stanbic IBTC, contracted a bullion van company in Port Harcourt to convey their monies from their branches in Aba, Abia State. While the service to Zenith was successfully completed and the amount belonging to them delivered in the company of soldiers, that of Stanbic Bank was not.
The soldiers disembarked from the bullion van at Zenith Bank, leaving the portion meant for Stanbic with the driver, who absconded with both the cash and the vehicle, which was missing for three days.
On Monday, the ₦60,250,000 contained in five sacks (marked) and secured with Stanbic IBTC bank seal were recovered by the police in a Ford Explorer vehicle which glasses were veiled with black waterproof bags and parked at the premises of a Supermarket at the GRA, Port Harcourt.
The presence of the suspicious vehicle in the supermarket car park was reported by the security guard.
The police said both the driver of the Ford, that of the bullion van and the security man who reported the presence of the Ford in his business premises are on the run. The police said nobody was being questioned in connection with the crime, but efforts are being made to arrest the fleeing driver and the complainant.
Anozia said: “On July 8,(last Friday), we received a report, by one Stanley Ndubuisi of Bankers Warehouse, at number 36 Forces Avenue, Old GRA, Port Harcourt. The company engages in bullion van hire services, which are mostly rented by banks to convey their cash to and fro.
“Last Friday, a bullion van was rented from the company by Zenith Bank and Stanbic IBTC bank in Port Harcourt to convey their cash from their branches in Aba, Abia State to Port Harcourt for the two banks.
“The van was manned by a driver who drove the vehicle to Aba. On his way back to Port Harcourt with the cash, the driver was, according to the complainant, accompanied by soldiers. When the vehicle arrived in Port Harcourt, it went straight to deliver the amount belonging to Zenith Bank at Zenith Bank.
“The complainant said that after the van had delivered that of Zenith bank, the soldiers went back to their duty posts, leaving the money for Stanbic bank with the driver alone. Consequently, the driver absconded with the vehicle and the money. Investigations commenced at that point.
“Then on Monday July 11, useful intelligence was received by me in my office that a certain Ford Explorer vehicle was found parked at the premises of a supermarket located at Number 2, Elelenwo Street, GRA Phase 2, and that the vehicle had certain sacks contained in it, but that what actually elicited the suspicion of the security officer of this Supermarket, who reported the presence of the Ford Vehicle in their premises, is that the windows screen of the said Ford Explorer were veiled with black waterproof bags and the vehicle is also owned by the bullion van renting company.
“The complainant told me that when he peeped closer inside the vehicle through some tiny spaces apparently missed by the black veil, he discovered that this vehicle contained some sacks resembling bank sacks, stuffed with something he could not identify but suspected to be cash. He reported to me.
“When the vehicle was opened, it was discovered that the sacks belong to Stanbic IBTC bank, because it had their seal.”
The sacks were opened in the presence of members of the public, who had converged on the scene. There was a video recording of the vehicle and the sacks were brought down and opened one after the other, the police chief said. There were between five and six sacks.
“The content of the sacks is the evidence you have seen on the ground here (pointing at the cash poured out on the ground), and the total amount recovered, according to the information and according to what we have here is, N60.250m,” …said.
Stanbic/IBTC Bank in a response by Rita Akao, said: “Yes we can confirm a bullion van transporting money ?by the Bankers Warehouse on our behalf recently went missing.
“We have received report that the van and funds have been found.
“We believe the Banker’s warehouse is working with the police who are investigating the incident”