Ex-UN worker arrested for robbing Manhattan banks ‘on work breaks’

Ex-UN worker arrested for robbing Manhattan banks ‘on work breaks’
New York police have arrested a Nigerian journalist who formerly worked for the UN in connection with a series of bank robberies in the city.

The NYPD’s Major Case Squad arrested Abdullahi Shuaibu earlier this week at the US State Department’s Foreign Press Center (FPC) at the US Mission in New York, across the road from the United Nations headquarters, NBC reported.

Police believe he robbed banks in the vicinity of the UN premises while on work breaks, the report also said. 

Police charged the 53-year-old with two counts of robbery and two counts of attempted robbery. At every successful heist, Shuaibu would reportedly show the teller a note that said, “Give me $5,000. Thank you.”

Police say Shuaibu had attempted to rob a HSBC bank at 40th Street and Third Avenue on Monday, but returned to work empty-handed shortly before being arrested. Bank teller Rani Ahme told the New York Post that a “regular guy” in a blazer slid her a note but “did not let go of it.” 

“I asked, ‘How can I help you?’ and he said, ‘Check it, check it,’ looking at the note, but he did not let go of the note,” Ahme said. The robber disappeared when the teller tried to alert her boss.

A retired police officer who now works as a guard at the US mission near the UN headquarters tipped off law enforcement after he recognized Shuaibu in surveillance photos that the NYPD distributed last month.

“It wasn’t hard,” the former cop told the newspaper. “He comes in and out of here every day.”

Commenting on the incident, Stephane Dujarric, a spokesman for the UN secretary-general, said that Shuaibu, a Nigerian national with a valid work visa but with no diplomatic immunity, had no contracts with the organization since 2013.

“The suspect is not an employee of the United Nations, nor is he an accredited journalist to the United Nations, nor was he arrested at the United Nations as some had reported,” Dujarric told a news briefing.

The spokesperson added that Shuaibu was “a resident correspondent here at the UN” working for the News Agency of Nigeria up until 2012. Afterwards, he worked for the UN for two months in the autumn of 2013.

“He did work very briefly for the UN in October and November of 2013 but has never worked for the United Nations since,” Dujarric said.

Shuaibu worked for the News Agency of Nigeria and served as its UN correspondent between 2006 and 2009.