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Eight Suspects Nabbed over N.8m Extortion from Anambra Women



By Praise Chinecherem

Eight suspects have been arrested for allegedly extorting more than N800,000 from some women in Awka, Anambra State.

The arrest carried out by Ministry of Women and Social Welfare is part of government’s resolve in eradicating corruption in the state.

Commissioner for Women and Social Welfare, Ify Obinabo said the exercise followed Governor Chukwuma Soludo’s directive of an NGO using government’s name to extort the sum of N20,000 and above from unsuspecting individuals, mostly women in Awka.

“When we bursted the office complex of the Host Communities of Nigeria Anambra State Chapter located opposite government house Awka, we discovered that the suspects were operating with the United Bank of Africa staff in opening a current account for the women who must pay the sum of N10,000 in cash and purchase the associations form with another N10,000 making it N 20,000 for one individual.

“We also discovered that these suspects had earlier recruited local government co-ordinators in all the 21 local government areas of the state who they made in charge of the registration done in cash while the bank staff were charge of opening accounts at the office complex,” she said.

Responding to the alleged extortion, leader of the association, Mrs Nneka Igboka said she was carrying out the directive of suspended Humanitarian Minister, Beta Edu.

She later claimed it was the minister’s SSA that gave her the go ahead order to execute the project and at the same time said, that it was the Ministry of Oil and Gas and Industry that directed her to carry out the task.

When asked if the Commissioner for Oil, Gas, and Industry is aware of the operation, Mrs Igboka stated that she can not inform the commissioner because it is not his/her business.

While the questioning was ongoing, the ministry’s staff were able to recover the sum of N146,500 being the money made from registration of a local government, some forms which had been filled and others yet to be filled, and a smart phone which was handed over to the police.

Some of the women who spoke to newsmen, Maryann Obikwe from Ogbaru and Nneka from Oyi all noted that they borrowed the money they used for the registration and account opening claiming that they were told that the process is to help secure cooking jobs for them in schools while some others who spoke under anonymity claimed that the suspect and her team assured them of oil money and school feeding jobs as well.

As at the time of this report, eight suspects including the bankers met opening accounts for people at the said office complex and the items recovered has been handed over to the State Criminal Investigation Department Awka for further investigation while the matter will be charged to court.

Meanwhile, Women and Social Welfare boss has instructed that those defrauded by the Host Communities of Nigeria should come to Prof Dora Akunyili Women Development Center Awka on Thursday to start the refund process.

“The Soludo led APGA government will never collect money from anyone to give them jobs. We urge members of the public to always be vigilant to avoid falling into the hands of scammers.

“Government will not relent until the victims are fully refunded. The ministry has already started the process of the refund,” she added.

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