BY VINCENT UJUMADU, Awka

FOUR suspects who specialize in defrauding Nigerian shareholders of their dividends are in the net of the Anambra State command of the Department of State Service, DSS, and have been narrating how unsuspecting investors lost millions of naira through their nefarious activities.

Among their victims are high profile Nigerians, including Senator Uche Chukwumerije representing Abia North in the senate, Prof Ifedayo Olawale Oladipo and charismatic preacher, Reverend Uma Ukpai. Even publicly quoted companies, such as United Bank for Africa, UBA, and Oando Plc had fallen victims of the syndicate at one time or the other.

Chukwu

The four suspects, Cletus Chris Ohaegbulem, 43, (aka Chris Ohams) from Ahiazu Mbaise in Imo State, Emmanuel Mbakwe,54, from Okauga Nkwoegwu in Umuahia North of Abia State, Yahaya Anifowoshe from Kwara State and Mojeed Babatunde, 45, a staff of Nigerian Postal Service, NIPOST, were said to be specialists in stealing dividend warrants of unsuspecting shareholders.

Their base of operation is Falomo, Lagos branch of NIPOST where they collect the dividends and cash them in the banks. The suspects were arrested at different times in Lagos, Asaba in DeltaState and Umuahia in AbiaState.

Ohaegbulam, who appears to be the brain box of the syndicate narrated at the AnambraState office of DSS, how he connived with the manager of Okaiuga Micro Finance Bank, Umuahia, Orji Ukanwoke and the operations manager of the bank, Emmanuel Mbakwe and cashed dividend warrants of unsuspecting shareholders of some companies through a spurious company, Access Enterprises Limited. Ukanwoke is still at large. The company was specifically set up for the  illegal business.

He also confessed that he had swindled uncountable number of victims through non-existent contracts in Ebonyi State Government House, Abakaliki, posing as a top official of the state government.

Anambra State Director of SSS, Mr. Alex Okeiyi described Ohaegbulam as a notorious fraudster. The SSS said of him: “He (Ohaegbulam) maintains multiple identities. For instance, he has three driving licenses bearing Donatus Izuchukwu, Fabian Ifeanyichukwu Agba and Chris Ohams and all the licenses have his picture.

These licenses were used to open fictitious bank accounts which he uses to swindle people.  A total of 194 dividend warrants belonging to unsuspecting shareholders were recovered from him. Among them is a UBA warrant in the sum of N38,727.90 belonging to Rev Uma Ukpai of P.O. Box 761, Uyo, AkwaIbomState.”

Okeiyi said Ohaegbulam’s accomplice, Mbakwe, confessed entering into an agreement with him and the manager of Okaiuga Micro Finance Bank, Ukanwoke, to cash the dividend warrants brought by him and receive 20% of any amount cashed.

Another suspect, Yahaya Anifowoshe, also implicated Ohaegbulam as the supplier of the dividend warrants, adding that one Chisom approached him (Anifowoshe) in January,2012 to source for dividend warrants for him. He said: “The warrants sourced are normally of the value of N30,000 and above for which he pays Babatunde (another suspect) N1000 for every N40000 dividend and N500 for every N30000 worth of dividend.”

Okeiyi said the dividends are usually sold to Chisom and later to Ohaegbulam at the rate of N1500 and N1000 respectively, adding that so far, the value of warrants he sold to Chisom and Ohaegbulam were worth about N20 million.

Altogether, 25 dividend warrants of Oando Plc belonging to Senator Uche Chukwumerije and UBA dividend warrants belonging to Professor Olawole Oladipo were recovered from the syndicate.  For Mojeed Babatunde, a cleaner at Falomo, Lagos NIPOST, he was lured into the business of stealing dividend warrants from Post Office boxes by Anifowoshe who compensates him with sums ranging from N3000 to N5000 for each supply, explaining that his last supply was on December 2, 2013.

Another person paraded by DSS was 30-year- old Chukwunonso Emeghalu from Udi Local Government area of EnuguState for allegedly duping members of the public and threatening them that he would detain them in SSS if they did no cooperate. Okeiyi warned the public to be wary of fraudsters claiming to be agents of any organization or working for the SSS either in the state or elsewhere.

All the suspects, Okeiyi said, would be handed over to the relevant security agency for further investigation and necessary action.

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