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How Mahdi Shehu was arrested trying to extort $500,000 from Malami — Lawyer alleges

A former attorney general of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has disclosed that a Kaduna-based businessman, Mahdi Shehu, was arrested while attempting to extort money from him.

Mr Shehu’s lawyer, M.I. Abubakar, on Wednesday had accused the Nigeria police of arresting the controversial activist over his recent call for the prosecution of Mr Malami and other top officials of the immediate-past administration.

He said his client was arrested by the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Monitoring Unit, ostensibly on a petition written by the former minister.

But a statement issued by Mr Malami’s law firm, A.A. Malami SAN and Co, and signed by M.E. Sheriff, said the controversial activist was arrested in a hotel while demanding the sum of $500,000.

While dismissing the activist’s claims, Mr Sheriff said the suspect was arrested on allegations of extortion, criminal intimidation, and attempt to obtain money by false pretence against a syndicate using GSM Numbers and email addresses.

“Our attention has been drawn to the above press statement that was made on February 7, 2024, as well as that of 13th January 2021, and we, as solicitors to Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN and his family, noted with grave concern that the press statement is totally not correct, misleading, malicious, and a grossly misrepresentation of the facts leading to the arrest.

“Therefore, we write to set the record straight for the benefit of the public.

“Without prejudice to the police investigation that is ongoing, the true facts relate to the complaint/petition which we wrote to the Inspector General of Police on allegations bothering on extortion, criminal intimidation, and an attempt to obtain money by false pretence against a syndicate using GSM numbers and email addresses.

“This led to the ongoing investigation into the complaint by the police.

“In the course of the investigation, the police monitored the sustained communications between our clients and the syndicate, wherein the syndicate disclosed and gave Room Number 9, Summerset Continental Hotel, situated at No. 73 Usuma Street, Maitama, Abuja, as a place where our client would meet the syndicate’s agent for their own payments.

“On reaching the hotel and the room number, Mahdi Shehu was found therein at the scene with copies of documents that were used and sent to our client by the syndicate.

“Some of the documents which the police retrieved from Mahdi Shehu specifically lend credence to yet another petition of our client that bothers on hacking and financial improprieties affecting Hajiya Aisha Abubakar Malami.

“On account of the compromise of our client’s emails, sensitive information was unlawfully extracted from an email account, and the sum of over N19,000,000.00 (Nineteen Million Naira) was unlawfully taken out of our client’s account by the syndicate, which turns out to be a syndicate of which Mahdi was coordinating via a group chat which he joined through the following phone numbers, viz: +2348033316644 and +2348096626226.

“He came over to the said provided address to collect $500,000 (Five Hundred thousand US Dollar) at the instance of the syndicate.”

While appealing to Nigerians to encourage the police to conduct its investigation, Mr Malami said all the documents recovered thus far are with the police for anyone who cares to verify them.

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