The Nigerian Police Force, Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Command says it has arrested the main suspect behind the first-of-its-kind kidnap incident involving an exchange of $15,000 worth of bitcoins as ransom payment.
However, PRNigeria investigation revealed that this is coming as security sources are beginning to point accusing fingers on the victim’s family members, domestic staff and other relatives who are believed to be deeply involved in these kidnapping incidences.
Recall that a Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, chieftain, Umar Ardo, was in September 2019 forced to pay $15,000 in bitcoins to get his daughter, Ms Aisha Umar, freed by kidnappers.
During his weekly security updates at the weekend, the FCT Commissioner of Police, Bala Ciroma, revealed that the suspect, one Sa’adu Abubakari, who is currently in the Police custody, has made a useful confession in connection with the new trend in kidnapping cases.
Mr Ciroma disclosed that the Anti-Kidnapping Squad had nabbed 13 members of kidnapping syndicate and other dangerous criminals.
“Sequel to the ongoing investigation into a reported kidnap incident at Asokoro on 14th September 2019, Police detectives from the Command, Anti-Kidnapping Squad, have arrested one Saadu Abubakari ‘m’ 23 years in connection with the incident.
“The suspect was arrested around Apo after the phone number used for the criminal act was traced to him.
“The Command is making concerted effort to arrest other persons involved in the criminal act,” Mr Ciroma disclosed.
According to Mr Ciroma, after the payment of the ransom in bitcoins, and the suspect release, the police engaged its intelligent operatives who swung into action.
Subsequently, Mr Ciroma said, the suspect was trailed and finally tracked down in Apo where he was arrested.
Police sources informed PRNigeria that Mr Abubakari, who is a commercial motorcycle rider (Okada), admitted to owning the SIM card which was registered in February 2018.
He, however, sold it to another suspect (now at large) who bought it from him for N1000.
Mr Abubakari who hails from Kano said he was tricked by a certain female suspect who acted to have lost her way, contacts and desperate for a new SIM card to make calls.
“The female suspect, who spoke in Hausa language, negotiated to buy his SIM card for N1000 with which the kidnap for ransom deal was made,” Mr Abubakari was said to have confessed.
Further findings also revealed that Mr Abubakari is barely literate and could only speak in Hausa.
“He claimed to have never stolen before. He said doesn’t know anything about bitcoin or understand how it works. He doesn’t even have a bank account or ATM card,” a security source told PRNigeria.
Police source said that while the crack team of intelligence and investigative officers were on the verge of unravelling the case, some challenges set in.
According to the source, this kidnap incidence is unique in the sense that it “sets a precedence in the kidnapping cases because of the bitcoin”.
An intelligent officer noted that the sophistication of the technology involved has opened a new chapter challenging their investigative skills.
According to him, while the Police were monitoring the situation, so far more than $9000 had been withdrawn from the bitcoin.
The officer, however, assured that the operatives were on the verge of overcoming the obstacles posed by tracking the bitcoins and would soon nab the culprits.
“We now know that we need a lot of tools, collaborations and more training. We have almost wrapped up this case but there are still gaps and challenges in tracking the bitcoins.
“The challenges are not only the technical nature of the transactions but the technological tools needed to crack it,” the officer said.