A Nigerian journalist and former United Nations employee was arrested for robbing four banks in Manhattan, New York, all during his lunch hour, the New York Post reported yesterday.
Abdullahi Shuaibu, 53, was charged with two counts of robbery and two counts of attempted robbery for the crimes committed during his two-month spree.
All four banks are within walking distance of his office at the Foreign Press Centre inside the US Mission to the United Nations, which is across the street from the UN building.
Shuaibu works as a journalist for an African news agency, police said.
Authorities were led to the suspect after a retired police officer who works as a guard at the US Permanent Mission to the UN recognized Shuaibu from a surveillance image previously released by the New York Police Department.
In the first incident, Shuaibu walked into a Santander Bank on Madison Ave. near E. 43rd St. on Feb. 27 and told the teller he had a gun. The bank employee complied and handed Shuaibu an unknown sum of money.
He hit two more banks during the month of March, first striking out at a Bank of America on Third Ave. near E. 47th St. on the 13th. He was successful in robbing a Santander Bank on Third Ave. and E. 63rd St. on the 27th.
During the most recent incident on Monday, Shuaibu walked into an HSBC on Third Ave. and E. 40th St. around 2:30 p.m. and passed a note demanding cash to the teller. The teller did not read the note and asked Shuaibu for identification.
He then instructed the employee to read the note, keeping his hand in his jacket pocket while simulating a gun, police said.
Police arrested him later in the day when he returned to the UN.
One of Shuaibu’s colleagues at the Foreign Press Center said they are “all in shock right now.”
A UN spokesman said Shuaibu worked briefly for the United Nations for a couple of months in the fall of 2013, but hasn’t had access to the facility since leaving in November of that year.
Shuaibu was nabbed outside the US Mission to the United Nations, where he’s been working out of the building’s Foreign Press Center as a State Department-credentialed reporter for the PanAfrican News Agency, police sources said.
“[He] is not an employee of the United Nations nor is he an accredited journalist to the United Nations,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
A retired cop who works as a guard at the mission, across the street from the UN building, tipped off cops after recognizing Shuaibu in surveillance photos of the alleged bank robbery that the NYPD circulated last month.
“It wasn’t hard,” the guard told The Post. “He comes in and out of here every day.”
Shuaibu confessed following his arrest, admitting he spent all the stolen money paying bills, sources said.
He was charged with two counts of robbery and two counts of attempted robbery and was awaiting arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court.
Shuaibu is a Nigerian national with a valid work visa but no diplomatic immunity, sources said.
A UN spokesman said that Shuaibu worked for the organization during October and November 2013 but no longer had credentials to enter the building.
Shuaibu’s wife formerly worked for the Nigerian Mission to the UN and split from her hubby, said Kassimu Mohammed, the mission’s protocol officer.
NYPD detectives got no answer when they knocked on the door of his home in Hollis.
Landlord Inosthene Delimon said Shuaibu and his wife began renting a $2,000-a month, three-bedroom townhouse apartment from him about eight years ago.
Delimon described the family as “good people who always paid their rent on time.”
“I never had any problems with them,” Delimon added.
– Larry Celona, Kevin Sheehan and Bruce Golding I New York Post