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Anambra Gov’t Cracks Down on Extortion Racket Targeting Women

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AWKA, NIGERIA — An operation led by the Anambra State Ministry of Women and Social Welfare has apprehended eight individuals on charges of extorting over N800,000 from local women.

The arrests, orchestrated in collaboration with state security operatives, were made public through a statement dated Wednesday, May 8, 2024, from Chidimma Ikeanyionwu, media aide to Commissioner Ify Obinabo.

The fraudulent scheme was allegedly orchestrated by an NGO falsely representing itself under the Anambra State government’s auspices.

The culprits reportedly demanded payments of N20,000 per person from unsuspecting women in Awka, supposedly for securing employment opportunities in school feeding programs and the oil sector.

This fee included N10,000 for a mandatory bank account opening and another N10,000 for purchasing a membership form.

During a raid at the Host Communities of Nigeria, Anambra State Chapter’s office, which is strategically located opposite the Government House in Awka, it was discovered that the suspects had collaborated with a bank staff member to facilitate the scam.

“Local government coordinators were recruited across all 21 local government areas of the state to manage cash registrations, while the bank staff handled the account openings,” Ikeanyionwu disclosed.

Upon interrogation, the alleged ringleader, Nneka Igboka, initially claimed to be acting under directives from the suspended Humanitarian Minister, Betta Edu, later altering her statement to say it was the minister’s SSA who had given the orders.

The ministry’s prompt intervention led to the recovery of N146,500 in cash, several registration forms, and a smartphone, all of which have been turned over to the police.

The eight suspects are currently under the custody of the State Criminal Investigation Department in Awka, pending further legal action.

Victims of the scam, many of whom had borrowed money to pay the fraudulent fees, expressed their distress and hopes for restitution.

In response, Commissioner Obinabo has announced a refund process starting tomorrow at the Prof. Dora Akunyili Women Development Center in Awka. She assured the victims of the state government’s commitment to ensuring a full refund and urged the public to remain vigilant against similar scams.

“This administration under Governor Chukwuma Soludo is determined to uphold justice and transparency, particularly in protecting our citizens from exploitation,” Obinabo stated. She emphasized that legitimate government employment does not require payment of any kind.

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