The suspects also used a church to defraud the victims
The police in Delta on Thursday said it arrested two suspects in connection with an NGO which allegedly defrauded 327 widows and poor women of N1.6 million in the state.
Briefing journalists at the “A” Division in Asaba, the Police Public Relations Officer, Celestina Kalu, said that the victims were from Asaba and environs.
Ms. Kalu, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, said the NGO known as “Women Relief and Restoration Initiative”, was claimed to have been established by the wife of the President, Patience Jonathan, to empower women in Anambra and Delta.
According to the spokesperson, Olubunmi Monu, a resident of Asaba reported the matter to the police that in September 2013, one Amechi Ndah, also of Asaba, introduced her to Adaeze Nwokoye of Awka, Anambra.
“Mrs. Nwokoye, the purported coordinator of the NGO, and Mr. Ndah claimed that the said NGO was established by the President’s wife, Dame Patience Jonathan, to empower women.
“Consequently, she (Monu) and other women numbering 327 from Oshimili South Local Government Area of the state were defrauded of the total sum of N1.6 million.
“Meanwhile, the said Ndah has been arrested and also arrested is 71-year-old Mr. Anene Nwokoye, of security department of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University (UNIZIK), Awka, Anambra, husband of the principal suspect,” she explained.
The spokesperson said that Mrs. Nwokoye avoided every contact and disappeared following the development, but she was tactfully invited to bring more forms as many women were waiting with their money to register.
Ms. Kalu also said that Mr. Nwokoye was arrested on February 26 when he approached the complainant (Ms. Monu) to collect additional N250, 000 on behalf of his wife.
She said that upon Mr. Nwokoye’s arrest, items recovered from him were 78 copies of the NGO’s membership forms.
The police spokesperson also disclosed that the NGO had extended its operations to other parts of the state, duping unsuspecting victims of their hard earned money.
The command advised members of the public to be wary of dubious NGOs whose major objective was to impoverish rather than to empower people.
In an interview with some of the victims, including some churches, the victims said they were jolted by the offer to become members of the NGO established by the president’s wife.
According to them, one of the specific conditions spelt out was that one must be a Christian to become a member.
Besides, they were made to pay the sum of N3, 000 each to register as members to be empowered by the NGO, and an additional N2, 000 to enable them obtain loan from a micro-finance bank in Onitsha.
A Pastor, Samuel Atawe, with the Redeem Christian Church, in Oko near Asaba, said that the coming of the NGO raised their hope. He said he regretted that the Oko community became worse off.
“The NGO was introduced to us by one our respected women members and the community trusted them, and no fewer than 250 women obtained the forms from seven different churches in the community.
“The instruction given is that if you are not a Christian, you must not fill the form, so it was the churches they used and different men of God encouraged the women to key into the programme since the First Lady is involved.
“In our axis in Oko, all the seven different churches were involved and the people paid N3, 000 as registration fee and another N2, 000 to open an account with a micro-finance bank in Onitsha,” he said.
He expressed gratitude to God that arrest had been made concerning the NGO as the operators had disappeared with people’s money, failing to empower the people in December 2013 as promised.
According to the pastor, the people of the community were already becoming suspicious of the churches involvement in defrauding them, especially because of the woman who introduced the NGO to them.
“I thank God for this development, this is a prayer answered and with this arrest of the woman’s husband, my job is restored and the community will know that of a truth we were interested in their welfare,” he said.
He advised that the people should be more careful, especially with issues or proposals coming from the church.