Job scam: Enugu Federal Psychiatric Hospital staff jailed for 7 years

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A senior staff of the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Enugu, Mrs. Stella Acharra has been sent to prison over an employment scam.

DAILY POST reports that Acharra was convicted by an Enugu State High Court and sentenced to 7 years in prison, without option of fine.

She was found guilty of defrauding job seekers while serving as the personal secretary to the former Medical Director of the Hospital, Dr. Jojo Onwukwe.

In a judgement that lasted for over two hours, Justice C.O. Ajah held that the prosecution proved its case beyond reasonable doubt.

The convict was charged for obtaining money under false pretense, punishable under Section 1 (3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other related Offenses Act, 2006.

Ajah held that it was convinced by the five prosecution witnesses, including a police officer, who was part of the team that searched the convict’s house and one Mrs. Stella Egotanwa, a personal assistant to the convict, through which she (the convict) scammed the complainants of a total sum of 14 million naira, under the guise that she (the convict) would help them get employment in the said hospital.

Upon the court’s sentence, the convict and all the members of her family, broke down in tears.

While making a plea, the defence counsel had pleaded with the court to temper justice with mercy on the ground that the accused person is a first time offender.

But the prosecution counsel, who prosecuted the case with the Attorney General’s fiat, drew the attention of the court to the provision of Section 1 (3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other related Offences Act, 2006, which provides for a jail term of not less than 7 years and not exceeding 20 years, as well as Section 11 of the same Act, which provided for restitution in favour of the complainants.

In its final verdict, the court, which took cognizance of the convict’s age, sentenced her to 7 years imprisonment without an option of fine and ordered that the convict pay back all the money she got from the complainants.

The legal battle began about four years ago when the Police in Enugu State dragged Achara to an Enugu High Court over alleged employment scam to the tune of N14 million.

In charge, No. E/197C/2017, signed by Mr. Damian Njoku-Umeh, the officer-in-charge, legal prosecution, Enugu State Police command, she was accused of defrauding job seekers to the tune of N14m.

According to the police, “Stella Achara in or about the years 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 at Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Enugu in the Enugu Judicial Division did by force pretenses and with intent to defraud, obtain from one Nwatarah Hope “f”, Stella Egotanwa “f”, Ogbe Onyinye “f”, Nwufo Ifeoma “f” Aforka Clementina “f”, Ikemefuna Ebonyi “m”, Stella Onyeji “f” Mbah Loveth Ifeoma “f”, Okoh Perpetua “f”, Uche Onyia “f”, Egbo Nonye, Igbokwe Patricia “f” and Nwaizugbe Chioma “f” the total sum of N14 million (fourteen million naira), by falsely pretending that you have power to procure employment for them and what you will employ them as staff of federal neuropsychiatric hospital, New Haven, Enugu, which presentation you knew to be false.”

Her conduct is said to have amounted to “obtaining property by false pretenses contrary to section 1 (1) (a) and punishable under section 1 (3) of the Advanced Fee Fraud and other Fraud related Offences act, No 14 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2006.”

Achara’s ordeal started following multiple reports against her at both the Enugu Area Command and the State Criminal Investigation Department of the Nigeria Police by over 50 job seekers, who claimed that they paid money to her for a job that never came.

Consequently, the police launched an investigation, during which several signed and unsigned appointment letters were recovered from the suspect’s home.

Among the job seekers, who were enlisted as prosecution witnesses were Nwatarah Hope, Nwufor Ifeoma, Ikemefuna Abonyi, Stella Onyeji, Mbah Loveth, Okoh Perpetua, Uche Onyia, Egbe Nonye, who claimed to have paid the suspect N185,000, N450,000, N600,000, N450,000, N350,000, N250,000, N350,000 and N350,000, respectively.

DAILY POST reports that the latest crisis, which rocked the Federal Government-owned hospital in recent years, was said to have been an off-shoot of the case.

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