A civil servant in Akwa Ibom State has been arrested for allegedly defrauding three persons of over N1.6 million under the guise of ‘online investment’.
The civil servant, Godspower Etuk, a staffer in the State Ministry of Finance, was taken into custody on Monday afternoon at the state police headquarters, Uyo, a police officer confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES.
Aniekan Essien, the husband of one of the victims, told this newspaper on Monday that Mr Etuk has been arrested.
Three of the victims who spoke with our reporter accused the civil servant of defrauding them of N1, 680,000, with a promise to pay each of them 11 per cent interest on their “investment”.
The aggrieved persons did not indicate what kind of investment they paid the cash for.
But many of such dubious investment scams abound in Nigeria today despite warnings from the authorities to citizens to desist from getting involved.
A victim, Rachael Essien, said she was convinced to invest after Mr Etuk took her to his office in the Ministry of Finance ”and showed her a laptop and claimed he was trading for the Akwa Ibom state commissioner for finance.”
Mrs Essien said she ‘invested’ N160, 000 and later invited her friend, Idoreyin Ekanem who ‘invested’ N520,000.
Mr Ekanem said the money he ‘invested’ was meant for her children’s school fees.
Mrs Essien and Mr Ekanem got N33,000 and N75, 000 respectively as ‘profits’ for the first month of their ‘investment’ in 2020.
Another victim, Ufot Etukumoh, a retired civil servant, said he gave N1 million to Mr Etuk, and that he had not gotten any interest on the money.
The victims said they have not been able to get their money back from Mr Etuk despite all their efforts.
They eventually wrote a petition against Mr Etuk, through the Ministry of Finance, to the commissioner of police in the state and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
A copy of the petition was sent to PREMIUM TIMES.
A senior official in the department of planning, Ministry of Finance, who did not want his name mentioned in the story since he had not been authorised to speak on the matter, confirmed that Mr Etuk is a staffer of the ministry.
He disclosed that Mr Etuk was queried over his “questionable activities” and a committee set up by the permanent secretary to investigate the allegations against him.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Eme-ete Imuk, declined comment on the matter when this newspaper contacted her.
Before his arrest, the suspect, Mr Etuk did not respond to calls and text messages seeking comment from him.
Suspect eventually reacts
At about 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Mr Etuk was being questioned by the police when a PREMIUM TIMES reporter visited the police headquarters.
Mr Etuk admitted to this newspaper that he collected the money from the three persons.
“The only problem is that the ‘platform’ I invested the money in stopped paying at some point,” he said.
He also admitted that he had appeared before the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Finance for questioning over the matter.
“I’ll pay back all the money I have collected, I promise. I am sorry,” he said.
It is unclear for now if Mr Etuk would be charged to court.
The police spokesperson in the state, Odiko MacDon, said his office was yet to be briefed on the case and, therefore, he could not comment on it. “Probably the IPO is busy with investigation,” he said.
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