Port Harcourt: Female Pastor remanded in prison for N23m Scam

Justice I. M Sani of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State has remanded Mercy Daniel Ogbonnaya, a pastor, in Port Harcourt Correctional Centre for obtaining money by false pretence contrary to Section 1 (1) (a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act and punishable under Section 1(3) of the same Act.

The defendant was arraigned by the Port Harcourt Zonal office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on one count charge.

The charge reads: “That you, Mercy Daniela Ogbonnaya sometimes between 7th September 2018 and 8th February 2019, at Port Harcourt within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court with intent to defraud, did obtain the Sum of N23,042,000.00 (Twenty Three Million, Forty-Two Thousand Naira) from Mrs Nyingierefaa Maxwell and Mrs Macba Iniene Richard under the false pretence of business proposals of purchase of Yoghurt from Aba, supply of provisions to the Genesis Group of Companies and supply of wires to Globalcom Communications Company, a fact which you knew was false and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1 (1) (a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act and punishable under Section 1(3) of the same Act”.

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The defendant pleaded not guilty to the charge when it was read to her.

Prosecuting counsel C. O Oni prayed the court to fix a date for commencement of trial, while counsel to the defendant, Amarachi Oweageli orally applied for the bail of the defendant, assuring that she would be available for trial.

Justice Sani granted the defendant bail in the sum of Five Million Naira (N5,000,000), and one surety within the jurisdiction of the Court.

The surety must own a landed property in Port Harcourt and shall present a Certificate of Occupancy with two recent passport photographs to be deposited with the court registry. Additionally, the surety verification shall be carried out by the EFCC and the court.

The defendant was remanded in Port Harcourt Correctional Centre pending the perfection of her bail terms, while the matter was adjourned to March 4, 2020, for the commencement of trial.