BY MAYOWA SAMUEL
The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps has arrested a POS operator who specializes in making financial transactions for bandits.
The POS operator simply identified as Mustapha was arrested by the Civil Defence operatives in Zamfara State.
Making the disclosure to journalists in his office, the commandant of the corps in Zamfara state, Muhammad Bello Muazu said the suspect was arrested in Birnin Tsaba community in Zurmi LGA of the state.
According to the NSCDC boss, two POS machines were recovered from Mustapha after his arrest, adding that the POS operator only deals with the bandits or people they have cleared to deal with him and apart from helping them make financial transactions, he also assists them to buy drugs, fuel, and other items.
“The suspect confessed that the machines were bought for him by a bandits’ leader and he is only transacting business with people he knows (the bandits).
“During interrogation, the suspect told us that they put calls to him from the forest and instruct him to collect money on their behalf and keep the money with him.
“Then if they want to buy some items such as drugs, fuel and foodstuffs they send somebody directly to him to collect the money to buy whatever they want for them.”
Muazu added, “Or sometimes they instruct the POS operator himself to use the money available to buy whatever they want for them. The transactions are usually shrouded in secrecy and are done with only known persons as confessed by Mustapha.
“This tells you that this person is particularly hired or sponsored to be doing the POS transactions for them.”
Muazu also disclosed that when the bandits got wind of the arrest, they demanded the immediate release of the POS operator and threatened to kill some of their victims if he is not released.
Those they threatened to kill are the village head of Birnin Tsaba and two party chairmen.
“When the bandits got the information about the arrest of the suspect (their agent) and seizure of the POS machines, they threatened to kill three persons they had abducted from the community earlier if the POS machines are not released to them or if in particular, the suspect is not freed.
“The people they threatened to kill are the village head of Birnin Tsaba and two party chairmen. The suspect had been operating two POS machines and we have asked banks to close the suspect’s accounts,” he said.
The Zamfara NSCDC boss hence called on the state government to temporarily suspend the operations of POS operators in the rural areas so as to cut off supply to the bandits, arguing that the rural POS operators are closer to the bandits.
He said, “We have advised the state government to temporarily suspend the operations of the POS, especially in rural communities.
“From our observation, this will affect the way the bandits are using rural POS operators to make transactions. The rural POS operators are closer to the armed criminals.”
Muazu further revealed that during the year under review, 711 cases were received by the various units of the corps, with 168 cases treated by the intelligence and investigation unit, 223 cases handled by the anti-graft units, and 320 cases received by the peace and conflict resolution unit of the corps.
He added that the corps recovered N119,724,818 from fraudsters and debtors, and handed it back to the rightful owners.