The Citizen can reveal today how a convict at the Ukonga prison reportedly took part in the now infamous ‘robbery’ of nearly Sh500 million from the Kinondoni branch of Barclays bank.
The role of the prisoner only identified as Abubakar in the unfolding theft conspiracy came to the fore as a special team of investigators pursued the prime suspects behind the theft of the money on April 15.
Details collected by the task force probing the heist indicate that the said Abubakar coordinated the sharing and movement of some of the millions stolen from the bank through a syndicate of a group of employees, civilian criminals and rogue police officers, one of whom is still on the run.
The convict’s involvement in the theft from behind the fortified walls of the Ukonga prison is now the subject of inquiries into what role, if any, that prison warders may have played to facilitate the theft.
Efforts yesterday to get comment from the prison authorities bore no fruits as employees in the communications office said they had not been aware of such an incident. They demanded that The Citizen first furnish them with the full name of the prisoner and the numbers that he was using to communicate with the outside world.
When asked about it, the Director of Criminal Investigation Mr Isaiah Mngulu referred all the questions on the matter to Dar es Salaam Special Police Zone Commander Suleiman Kova.
But Kova told The Citizen he would not want to speak on this particular issue. “You are now tricking me on this one. I have no more comment other than my earlier statement,” he said on phone.
According to information gathered by The Citizen that exclusively revealed how the robbery was faked to cover for the theft, Abubakar who is serving his jail term for a different crime, is said to be the husband of Lucy Macha (30) – the woman who was nabbed inside an Arusha-bound bus on Thursday with Sh26 million.
According to our sources close to the team investigating the ‘robbery’, police were shocked to learn that the prisoner was constantly in communication on mobile phone with some of the suspects arrested for questioning.
“In fact the prisoner was the one organizing how some of the money was to be shared out and arranged for two bags with nearly sh40 million to be dropped to his wife,” one of the sources confided in The Citizen at the weekend.
The police who were sent to arrest Ms Macha at Kabuku were puzzled to learn and also witness the mobile conversation between the woman suspect and her husband from the prison as they drove her back to Dar es Salaam at night.
“It was shocking that this Abubakar was informed of the minute to minute development of the investigation. He even knew of the arrest of his wife and called to tell her as much, even though the police would not let her admit to the fact for fear of losing the trail on more suspects,” our source explained.
According to our inquiries, it was Abubakar who sent an unnamed emissary with the two bags with Sh40 million to drop them at the home of his wife’s sister in Kibaha. He them directed Ms Macha to collect one of the bags with Sh26 million and proceed to Arusha.
However, Ms Macha was arrested at Kabuku before her final destination while the other bag was also recovered from her sister, who alongside her reported bodaboda husband, are among the 13 suspects that Mr Kova told a press conference are being held by the police in connection with the incident.
Mr Kova named those under arrest as Kinondoni Barclays branch manager, Alune Kasililika, alias Mollel, 28, the operation manager, Neema Bandari alias Bachu.
The suspects are accused of conniving to steal Sh392 million, $55,000, Euro 2150 and 50 pounds on April 14, 2014.
Kova said investigations established that three quarters of the stolen cash was pocketed just one day before the faked robbery following a series of meetings between the plotters.
Other suspects held are Fredrick Lazaro a resident of Manzese, Kakamiye Julius of Kinondoni, Idd Nguvu alis Hamisi also from Kinondoni, Sezary Masawe alias Msolopa, and Boniface Ndaro alias Muumba who resides at Kijitonyama.
Others are Erasmus Mroto alias Menyee of Magomeni, Deo Olomy a resident of Manzese, Mohamed Athumani alias Salum of Kimara Stopover, Joseph Mkoi also resideng at Kimara Stopover, Lucy Amos alias Macha of Tabata and Grace Amon who is famously known as Macha from Kibaha in Coast region.
The regional police boss added that initially, there was a controversy on how a criminal gang managed to walk away with such amount of cash but he deployed a task force comprising of detectives who are well trained in banking fraud.
When probing into the controversial incident, Mr Kova said a special police unit dealing with robbery in financial institutions managed to track and crack down a vehicle that was used during the incident and that they were still looking for another vehicle that was reportedly involved when the gangsters grabbed the money.
“Some suspects who were interrogated admitted to have been involved in that theft and they were found with a substantial amount of cash that was part of the money after they met to have their share, added Mr Kova.
He however came out strongly to distance the police from blame that they have been colluding with robbers to accomplish various robbery mission adding that their investigations revealed that in many cases such incidents were masterminded by unscrupulous bank employees advising that it was high time for employers to rigorously scrutinise their employees.