Adelani Adepegba, Abuja
The police in Abuja have arrested a 40-year-old man, Goodluck Onyewenyi, for allegedly using the pictures and medical reports of renal failure patients to solicit for money from members of the public, which he then pocketed.
The suspect was said to have raised over N4.7m by writing to wealthy individuals to seek their financial support for patients needing kidney transplant.
Onyewenyi, who was paraded by the Federal Capital Territory Commissioner of Police, Bala Ciroma, on Monday, was said to have used the picture of a family friend, who was in dire need of money for kidney transplant, to defraud some people.
The patient subsequently died in 2014 due to his inability to raise money for the procedure.
Onyewenyi reportedly opened a bank account in the name of the patient to defraud unsuspecting members of the public.
Bala said, “Preliminary investigation has revealed that the suspect used the names of patients identified to be suffering from kidney failure to solicit for financial assistance, which he converted to his personal use.
“The following have been recovered from the suspect as exhibits: pictures of patients undergoing dialysis, copies of letters for financial assistance and bank documents. Investigation is ongoing.”
Abraham Onyeke, the elder brother of a renal failure patient, Joshua, who was also exploited by Onyewenyi, narrated how the suspect opened an account in the name of the patient, through which he raised over N4m.
He explained that Onyewenyi suggested to him to ask for financial support from Nigerians for Joshua, adding that he gave the suspect N2,000 to post the letters of assistance but he manipulated them for his fraudulent activities.
Abraham said, “Because of the nature of my job as a banker, I asked him to assist me to post the letters; so, he got the medical report, Joshua’s pictures and other details, took the envelopes home and went behind to change the name through a newspaper publication.
“He went to the bank, swore to an affidavit, changed his name, got a national identity card and opened an account. He sent the letters soliciting for money to over 200 persons and money started coming into the Zenith Bank account he opened. He got about N4.7m.
“When we got the report through some philanthropists who came to Wuse to contribute to the cause, we investigated and got him, but he said he was working in Lagos. We then asked him to transfer the money to us but he refused.
“So, we blocked the account through a court order, but he quickly went to Suleija, Niger State, and opened an account with UBA there. The police got an order to freeze the account and they nabbed him in Dutse, Makaranta, Kubwa. As it is now, Joshua is still suffering from renal failure and we need Nigerians to come to his aid.”
The suspect did not deny raising money for the patient, but claimed it was taken by a non-governmental organisation he purportedly collaborated with.
“It is very unfortunate; it is not intentional but the NGO is not available now; that is why I’m taking the blame for everything. I and the family have reached an agreement to sell my car, but I am surprised to find myself here (at the police command). We are trying to settle the matter,” he claimed.