Friday, June 18, 2021

EXCLUSIVE: Armed robbers invade Aso Rock, empty Buhari’s chief of staff Gambari, admin officer Maikano’s residences

The breach raised fears that the rising insecurity across the country was drawing closer to the elite than previously estimated.

• May 10, 2021

Armed men suspected to be robbers invaded the residences of two senior aides to President Muhammadu Buhari inside the precinct of the Presidential Villa, administration officials and security sources have told Peoples Gazette, raising fears that the rising insecurity across the country was drawing closer to the elite than previously estimated. 

The incident on May 9 (yesterday) prompted Ibrahim Gambari and Abubakar Maikano, the chief of staff and admin officer, respectively, to abandon their residences, sources said. 

“Their houses were robbed and the robbers packed money and other valuable assets from both houses,” an aide to the president informed about the robbery told The Gazette. 

It was not immediately clear whether or not valuable documents of state interest were carted away by the intruders, but The Gazette heard that the residences were thoroughly ransacked. 

“The robbers took away as much as possible from both places,” a security officer that confirmed the incident said. “What is more unfortunate is that no one has been arrested.” 

Officials also said Mr Gambari was given an official residence at the Defence House, but has not been living there, preferring instead to live inside Aso Rock and be close to the president.

Nigeria’s presidential palace just east of the city centre has long been seen as highly fortified and far beyond the reach of burglars, bandits and other criminals currently holding the vast swathes of the country to ransom. 

But as criminal activities overshadow other matters of national consequences, Mr Buhari has faced calls to act urgently before it would be too late. 

Armed bandits have abducted thousands of citizens since January alone, claiming billions in ransom payments at an alarming rate.  

No explanation was immediately rendered for the invasion and why it was not prevented by the ubiquitous contingent of security officers, especially those of the State Security Service, guarding the fortress.

Mr Gambari did not immediately return a request seeking comments. 
A spokesman for the SSS said he would not comment on the matter and a spokeswoman for the police in Abuja abruptly disconnected the call upon hearing The Gazette’s enquiry was about a security breach at the Presidential Villa. 

Update: Presidential spokesman Garba Shehu confirmed hours after The Gazette’s report that Mr Gambari said there was an attempted burglary at his residence.

Mr Shehu said the attempt was unsuccessful, a claim that was disputed by presidency and security sources who said the chief of staff’s valuables, including cash, were stolen.

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