The Department of State Services (DSS) has arrested Abbas Umar Masanawa, the chief executive officer of Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), over his alleged involvement in a massive fraud at the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company (NSPMC).
The NSPMC is a subsidiary of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) that prints and mints the nation’s currency notes, coins and high-level security documents.
Sources within the DSS told Peoples Gazette that Mr Masanawa was taken into custody three weeks ago and has remained there while their investigation continued.
He has not been charged or arraigned in court, and it is unclear whether he has legal representation. A spokesman for NIRSAL did not respond to requests for comments.
Mr Masanawa’s arrest is linked to his previous role as the managing director of NSPMC, where he allegedly conspired with Godwin Emefiele, the former CBN governor, to loot the printing and minting agency.
Mr Emefiele was suspended as CBN governor on June 9 and was arrested the next day by the DSS, which has defied court orders to release him.
“We are still tracing billions they stole,” a source familiar with the arrest said.
Mr Masanawa resigned from NSPMC in May 2022, after Peoples Gazette reported that he was seeking a governorship election in Katsina State as a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) while still in office as the nation’s printing and minting boss.
He failed to secure the APC ticket and was subsequently appointed as the head of NIRSAL by Mr Emefiele, following the removal of the agency’s former boss Aliyu Abdulhameed over corruption allegations. Mr Abdulhameed denied any wrongdoing.
Mr Masanawa’s arrest came as President Bola Tinubu appointed Jim Obazee, an anti-graft expert, to probe fraud at the CBN and other federal agencies.
The Obazee-led team is said to have initiated a probe into all relevant agencies that are said to have colluded with the CBN and its sprawling parastatals.
Mr Masanawa’s detention for the past 22 days has crippled NIRSAL’s ability to operate, as he has not been suspended or replaced by the president. A presidential spokesman declined to comment on the matter.
A spokesperson for the DSS also declined to comment on Mr Masanawa’s detention, saying “no comment” in a message to The Gazette on Friday morning.
Source: Peoples Gazette