Breathtaking details of how inmates fleeced several women of millions from Enugu prison
By CHIOMA IGBOKWE
There seems to be no repentance in the dictionary of some inmates in the Enugu prison. Not even the four walls of jail could hold them from hatching and executing breathtaking crimes. But detectives attached to the Police Intelligence Response Team (IRT) have been able to bust their network, which specialises in defrauding women by pretending to be wealthy Nigerian businessmen.
The suspects, identified as Onyebuchi Chiege and Ifeanyi Igbokwe who are currently awaiting trial over a kidnap case, succeeded in ripping off several women of millions of naira from prison with the aid of smart phones smuggled into the prison for their use.
The discovery led to the arrest of three other suspects identified as Ujunwa Emeribe, Chinedu Adindu and Chidinma Chiege who are allegedly responsible for opening bank accounts and withdrawal of money whenever it is needed.
According to a reliable police source, the activities of the duo became known when one Henry alerted the police that the husband of her relative, Gloria, who is based in USA was kidnapped. Henry told the police that the victim, identified as Ekechi Obi, resident at No 10 Euphrates Crescent, Maitama, Abuja, was kidnapped and his Roll Royce car carted away.
The Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, directed the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) to track down and rescue the victim unharmed. With the aid of the Technical Intelligence Unit, it was discovered that all the calls made to the phone number of the victim and that of his mother emanated from Enugu Prison.
The phone used, it was discovered, actually belonged to two inmates identified as Chiege and Igbokwe. The duo had spent two years awaiting trial over a case of kidnapping and cultism. Not deterred by the four walls of the prison, the suspects acquired smart phones and started online fraud.
One of their modus operandi was to pose as rich Nigerian businessmen in need of love. Their targets, who are mainly foreigners would be amazed at the possibility of dating a rich man from Nigeria.
But, in the latest scam that marked their nemesis, the suspects, as soon as they convinced their victim, Gloria that she was on phone with Ekechi Obi, a millionaire based in Abuja, initiated online relationship with the suspects and later proposed to her. Weeks before their agreed date for Gloria to return to start the wedding process, one of the suspects called her and broke the bad news that her fiancé, Ekechi had been kidnapped.
With a fake video call, Gloria spoke with an old woman who claimed to be the mother of his fiancée, Ekechi Obi. Pretending to be sad, she told Gloria that the kidnappers had demanded N20million ransom and that she could only raise N5million. She claimed that her son had millions of naira in bank accounts and that she would refund her as soon as Ekechi regained his freedom.
In an attempt to save her fiancé, the victim sent N8million to an account number purported to belong to the kidnappers. It was when she was asked to bring more that she alerted her relative, Henry, to lend her some money.
During interrogation Chiege and Igbokwe allegedly admitted that they duped several women from the prison. They alleged that prison warders were paid weekly to allow them make use of their phones for video calls at any location of the prison they chose.
Denying any complicity in the crime, the three other suspects claimed that they were used to open bank accounts and withdraw cash when needed. Adindu claimed that he was told that millions of naira in his account was from Igbokwe’s relative based abroad.
“I have a friend; his name is Ifeanyi Igbokwe who is now in prison. Sometime in January, I received a call from him from prison to go and open an account for him. I used my name to open the account, but used his phone number so that he will be receiving alert.
“I have withdrawn N450,000 from the account, which I gave to his mother. I also withdrew N400, 000 which I gave to a prison official.
He only gives me N5,000 each time I help him to withdraw money. I have asked him severally how he got the money and he told me that it was from an uncle abroad. I was shocked when I learnt that he has defrauded so many women.
Another suspect Chidinma Chiege, claims that she was never convinced that all the money in the account came from a decent source. “I am the girlfriend of Onyebuchi and he was arrested for kidnapping. I normally visit him in the prison and he will give me plenty of money. One of the days, he asked me to open an account for him in my name, but to use his phone number so that he would be receiving alerts.
“Suddenly millions of naira were deposited into the account. I did not bother to ask them the source, because I knew why they were in prison. I am not part of them. The only thing I did was to open an account for them.”