By Uzoh Ugwueze, Enugu
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, South East Zonal office, has released the sum of N4,300,140.52 (Four Million, Three Hundred Thousand, One Hundred and Forty Naira, Fifty-Two Kobo) to an Onitsha-based victim of fraud, Mr. Ignatius Nwoke.
The commission handed over the money to him at its office in Enugu.
Presenting the cheque to Nwoke on behalf of the acting chairman of the Commission, Ibrahim Magu, the Zonal Head, Usman Imam stated that the occasion was instructive and reflective of what EFCC represents apart from the public persona of just an institution after the big looters.
“This is one of what the Commission does, to help the helpless. This is a story we want the world to know; that EFCC, apart from the mandate of sanitising the public institutions through our core mandates of investigation and prosecution, we are also in the business of using that to help victims who have nobody to help them in the event they are scammed,” he said.
Imam noted that the case was not normal but one in which, suspects have jumped bail and others were at large such that any other institution or officers which were not diligent could have swept by the side and continued with other cases.
He further stressed that the recovered fund should not be seen as being small considering the hardship in the country and the fact that the victim, over the years, might have felt it was impossible to ever get back his money.
Reacting, the elated Nwoke said he was grateful to the EFCC and all the staff who helped him recover part of his funds. “I am very happy to receive this money. I thank the EFCC and all its members for their efforts. I thank the chairman and the zonal head who recovered this money for me. I pray God to bless you,” he said.
On his advice to Nigerians regarding his experience, he said; “I tell people to be careful of fraud. Fraud is much in Nigeria now. How can one, after suffering for over twenty years, just have someone defraud one of it?” He questioned rather rhetorically.
Nwoke’s journey which, according to him, had cost him the life of his brother because he could not afford money needed for his treatment, started in 2010 when he was approached by a supposed friend. The friend brought three other fraudsters posing as Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) staff and offered him contracts purportedly running into millions of naira.
One of them, in fact, the arrow head of the scheme, Obumneme Ojimba, admitted to the commission of the crime, was arrested and granted bail but later took flight.
The Commission, after painstaking investigation through its counsel, Anasoh Henry Onyekachi, filed a motion ex parte at an Ikoyi High Court for Non-Conviction based forfeiture under Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Fraud Offences Act 2006 over the N4,300.140.52 domicilled in the account of the one of confessed fraudsters.
The court having ordered the publication of the interim forfeiture which was granted, went ahead to grant an order finally forfeiting the said fund to the nominal complainant.