Former Jubo League leader AKM Mominul Haque SayeedFile photo

The immigration police do not have any information regarding former Jubo League leader AKM Mominul Haque alias ‘Casino Sayeed’s return to the country. According to his passport records, he flew to Singapore three and a half years ago and never returned. However, in reality he is in Dhaka now. He took over the charge as secretary of Bangladesh Hockey Federation last week. He is trying to regain his control in Motijheel.

Sayeed, like the other leaders of Dhaka south city Jubo League, came into limelight after the government started the anti-casino drive in September, 2019. He was the joint secretary of Dhaka south city Jubo League and the councillor of Dhaka South City Corporation’s ward no. 9 back then. At the same time, he had control on casino businesses at different sporting clubs in the capital’s Motijheel and Arambagh area. As a result, he became known as ‘Casino Sayeed’.

Although police arrested several leaders of Dhaka South City Jubo League, including president Ismail Hossain Samrat and organising secretary Mahmud Bhuiyan, at the time, they could not arrest Sayeed as he had already left the country a few days before the start of the drive. Later, he was removed from the post of councillor on 17 October 2019.

A total of three cases were filed against Casino Sayeed on the allegation of transaction of money earned from his illegal casino business and extortion and money laundering. Following that, the court issued an arrest warrant against him.

According to Prothom Alo’s investigation, Mominul Haque left Dhaka for Singapore on 2 September, 2019 through the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport. The immigration department does not have any information on his return using the same passport he used to go abroad at that time.

According to the sources in the Department of Immigration and Passports, the immigration police will have the information if anyone returns to the country using a passport. No information on Sayeed’s return to the immigration police means that he returned home illegally.

This correspondent tried to reach Mominul Haque Sayeed over the phone several times, but he didn’t respond. However, Sayeed replied after this correspondent said he was from rothom Alo through a text message. He asked the correspondent what he wanted to know. This correspondent asked him about how he returned to the country. After that, Sayeed didn’t respond anymore.

Later, this correspondent went to Sayeed’s house and talked to the security guard of the house, Jamal Khan. Jamal Khan made a call to Sayeed’s apartment using the intercom and told the correspondent and he was told that Sayeed was not at home.

Speaking regarding Sayeed’s return to the country, Shahinur Islam, lawyer of Sayeed, said, “He was present in the court during the hearing on his bail plea. However, I don’t know how he returned to the country.”

However, according to the police and a source in the Jubo League, Sayeed came back to the country via India. He crossed the border illegally and entered the country secretly. After that, he appealed for bail to the High Court on 30 January. The court ordered him to surrender at the lower court. Following that, he appeared before the Dhaka Metropolitan Senior Judge Court and appealed for bail in a case filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission. He got bail in that case on the same day.

After returning to the country, Casino Sayeed appeared publicly for the first time on 14 February. He made a sudden appearance in the executive committee meeting of the Hockey Federation at the Falcon Hall in the capital’s Tejgaon area. He was greeted by Chief Air Marshal Shaikh Abdul Hannan, president of the federation, and other committee members.

After the meeting Air Chief Marshal Shaikh Abdul Hannan told the newspersons, “Mominul Haque Sayeed will be included in the committee following the routine process. If there is no legal barrier, then there is no objection from me. All the other members of the committee have agreed to this decision. If there is no legal barrier, he will join the committee as the general secretary.”

Mominul Haque Sayeed was elected the general secretary of the Hockey Federation before the start of the anti-casino drive in April 2019. He was exempted from this post after his name appeared in the casino scandal in August 2020.

Mominul, at the moment, resides in a luxurious apartment in the capital’s Bailey Road. In his passport, Mominur's permanent address is recorded as at Nabinagar village in Brahmanbaria and his present address as Bangabhaban staff quarters. A visit to these places revealed that Mominul’s father used to work as a tailor at the Bangabhaban. In that connection, he and his family used to live in the Bangabhaban staff quarters.

A source from the law enforcement officials involved in the anti-casino drive says after the emergence of casino culture, Sayeed established control over several clubs including Mohammedan Sporting Club, Arambagh KS, Dhaka Wanderers and the Dilkusha Sporting Club.

Some of the law enforcement officials already knew about Sayeed’s return to the country after three years even before he was granted bail. According to several sources concerned, he returned to the country based on political consensus. Therefore, they didn’t get the green signal from the higher ups.

Seeking anonymity, several leaders of Awami League and Jubo League told Prothom Alo that after getting back to the country, Casino Sayeed is trying to regain his control over the clubs. He often hangs out with his followers at the Dhaka Mariners Young's Club in Motijheel. Already there are allegations against his followers, of carrying out attacks on several persons. He also has threatened many more.

Two of his followers have been arrested on the allegation of carrying out an attack on Ahmed Islam, president of Awami League unit in Motijheel ward no. 9 Awami League on 12 February.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, Ahmed Islam said, “Sayeed’s followers attacked me and two others and snatched away Tk 85,000 from us. We filed a case accusing nine. The police have arrested two. However, they were released on bail. Now they are threatening me again.”

DMP deputy commissioner of Motijheel Zone, Hayatul Islam Khan told Prothom Alo, “The police have arrested two in connection with the incident. We are investigating whether someone ordered them to carry out the attack or not.”