Chinwe Ugele, Umuahia.

A total number of 22 fake ‘empowerment groups’ have been uncovered in Abia state following series of complaints and reports by the victims of their fraudulent exercises.

Over 6,000 persons have fallen victims of this scam which recently gained popularity in that city.

The operations of these persons appear restricted to Aba where they have successful defrauded traders of millions of naira without having to put a gun to their heads.

They convince the unsuspecting public to deposit some money with their groups in order to receive double their input later and also as a way of pacifying their victims and giving them hope, they buy and give them items such as refrigerators, TV sets etc in the name of empowerment.

This practice as learnt has gone on for several months until lately when some persons began to smell a rat somewhere when they experienced difficulty in retrieving their money.

The various groups which function as individual groups come under different pretentions, some as financial institutions, church cooperatives, and poverty alleviation, have defrauded their victims of cash running into hundreds of millions
However, the police in the state have announced through the commissioner, CP Chris Ezike that their intervention has led to the discovery of N91,182,369.69 in various banks and recovery of about N7,933,900.00 cash.

The suspects among whom are 16 women and 2 men were paraded on Wednesday by the commissioner of police who stated that he first set up a panel to investigate the allegations before coming up with their findings.
CP Ezike who decried the negative effect of the fraud, said it has the tendency of crippling retail businesses in Aba, and stated he will consult their legal department on the issue to decide on what next to do with the recovered funds to satisfy all affected persons.
One of the suspects, denied defrauding people, and explained his practice to be like the traditional cooperative thrift collection.

Other arrests made within the last two weeks of assumption of office of the commissioner include 2 kidnap suspects, 14 armed robbery suspects, 5 cultism suspects among others.

The new CP announced the establishment of “Command Monitoring Unit” to serve as the “police” of the police, handling cases of excessive use of force, human rights abuse, and corrupt practice against police officers.
In addition, to coordinate and promote the use of modern technology in tackling kidnapping, the CP said he has set up “Abia State Command Anti Kidnapping squad with jurisdiction to cover all parts of the state.

Superintendents of police will head both units newly established.

Exhibits recovered from the suspects in addition to the “empowerment Scam” recovery are 3 vehicles, 1AK47 rifle, 2 revolver pistols, 6 locally made pistols, 3 Dane guns, 24 cartridges, N100,000, etc.

Chinwe Ugele

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