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Thursday, 10 May 2018

Alleged job scam: Enugu psychiatric hospital worker sent to prison


Mrs. Stella Achara, a senior secretary at the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Enugu, is currently cooling her heels at the Enugu Prisons.

This followed her inability to meet bail conditions given to her after she was docked before an Enugu High Court.

As of the time of this report, her relatives were around the court’s premises on Wednesday making efforts to secure her freedom.

It was reported that Achara was on Tuesday arraigned before Justice C.O Ajah of Enugu High Court on charges bordering on employment scam to the tune of N14 million.

By the close of work yesterday, Tuesday, the bail conditions could not be met, prompting her movement to the prisons.

When the matter came up, counsel to the defendant, J.I. Isieke addressed the court on his motion for preliminary objection which he earlier filed challenging the charges preferred against Achara.

He had told the court that the charge was an abuse of court process as a similar one was pending before a magistrate court in the State. He had also challenged the power of the prosecutor, Barr. Njoku-Umeh.

However, Njoku-Umeh in his counter affidavit told the court to discountenance the preliminary objection as the defendant failed to show the court any evidence that such charge was pending in any other court.

After listening to both parties, Justice Ajah held that the defendant failed to convince the court that there was such case anywhere in another court.

The court equally overruled his opposition to the power of attorney given to the prosecution by the Attorney-general of Enugu State.

Consequently, the charge was read to the accused person. She pleaded not guilty.

The charge, with No. E/197C/2017, read, “Stella Achara in or about the years 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 at Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Enugu in the Enugu Judicial Division did by force pretences 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.”

After her plea of not guilty, the defense counsel urged the court to grant her bail, assuring that she would always be available to face trial.

This was, however, opposed by the prosecution, who informed the court that the defendant was already threatening the star witness in the case. He said granting her bail could jeopardize justice on the matter.

In his ruling, the Judge granted Achara bail in the sum of N5,000,000, (five million naira) with three sureties, two of who must be civil servants at the level of directors. They are to show three years of tax clearance.

Our correspondent reports that the defendant was unable to meet the bail conditions and was moved to the Enugu prisons.

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 investigation, during which they claimed several signed and unsigned appointment letters were recovered from the suspect’s home.

Among the job seekers, who have been enlisted as prosecution witnesses are: Nwatarah Hope, Nwufor Ifeaoma, 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.

The case has been fixed for June 29, 5th July and 13th July for trial, with the Judge cautioning both parties that he was not going to entertain any unnecessary delay.

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