The proprietress and publisher of the Women Voices Newspaper, Madam Helen Gbeh Nah and her fiancé, Joshua Osadagbonyi, an IT Personnel at the United Bank of Africa (UBA) – Broad Street branch, have been arrested by officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) for alleged theft of US$33,199 from the Bank and are expected to appear in Court today.
The Director of Press and Public Affairs of the LNP, Sam Collins, said Mr. Osadagbonyi and his fiancée, Madam Nah collectively used the money to purchase an A-1 printing machine for her company — Truly Yours, Inc. — the publishers of the Women Voices Newspaper.
Mr. Collins told journalists in a press conference yesterday at the LNP headquarters that first defendant Osadagbonyi has been charged with the commission of “theft of property, money laundering and forgery.”
He stated that second defendant Helen Gbeh Nah was duly charged with the commission of “theft of property, aiding and consummation of crime and criminal facilitation”, in violation of Chapters 15, 10 and 12 sections 15.51; 15.81; 15.70 12.5 and 10.2 respectively of the revised Penal Law of Liberia.
“The two were arrested and informed of their Miranda Rights thorough investigations conducted as a result of complaints filed by Madam Majek Polorunsho, Executive Director and Archie Sheriff, Country Chief Inspector respectively of UBA-Liberia,” Mr. Collins said.
“During the investigation, the two defendants were represented by Atty. Festus K. Nowon of Dugbor Law Firm. This marked their second arrest after the gathering of evidence and preparation of the Police Charge Sheet,” he said.
He added: “Defendant Osadagbonyi confessed that he hacked into the Western Union platform and executed the fraudulent transaction and engaged some agents to withdraw the funds, totaling US$33,199.00 and deposited it in Helen’s account and said money including hers, totaled to 35,187.19 was sent to the USA for payment for printing equipment.”
According to the Police Charge Sheet number 4906, defendant Osadagbonyi admitted his involvement to Police investigators. He claimed that he disabled the Western Union Server/Application and immediately activated an account with an unknown user he had created to transfer US$33,199 to various banks in Liberia, Ghana and Nigeria respectively.
He told police investigators that he later used some individuals in the three countries to withdraw the money, which he later deposited, into Helen G. Nah’s account at the UBA.
“In furtherance of his statement, defendant Osadagbonyi stated that during the fraudulent transaction, he was the sender as well as the receiver of the cash. “Defendant Osadagbonyi further revealed that when he received the US$33,199, he deposited same into Helen G. Nah’s account (004127956981) at UBA for the purpose of purchasing a printing machine from the United States,” according to the Police Charge Sheet.
As for defendant Nah, according to the charge sheet, she chose to remain silent when she was asked with reference to her involvement or knowledge of the money that was credited to her account.
The Police Charge Sheet further said investigations also uncovered huge deposits at another account owned and managed by defendant Nah, bearing account number 53030160005670.
The Press Union of Liberia, represented at the press conference by its Vice President, Jallah Grayfield, has not yet commented on the arrest, charges and detention of the Women Voices publisher.
Nah declares innocence
Meanwhile, from her jail cell, Ms. Nah disclaimed the report by the Liberia National Police linking her to crimes of theft of property and criminal facilitation.
She described her arrest as a witch-hunt, principally intended to destroy her hard earned character she suffered to build over the years.
According to her, the Truly Yours General Merchandise Business, which publishes the Women Voices Newspaper has an account with the United Bank for Africa (UBA) and currently has in the account the amount of US$35,000. “We have all relevant receipts to proof our deposits made over the years,” she said.
Having confirmed that Joshua is her friend, Nah said that she at no time conspired with him to steal from the bank.
According to her, Joshua took advantage of the confidence she reposed in him to transact on her behalf at the bank since he was in the employ of UBA.
She however says she has documents to prove that Joshua has begun paying back monies stolen from the bank, through the Monrovia City Court at the temple of Justice.
‘Witch-hunt from higher-up’
Ms. Nah also detailed that when she inquired why she was being arrested, she was informed by the officers who arrested her that the order to have her arrested came from the higher-up.
She accused the LNP’s administration of going after her and was doing everything possible to implicate her in this saga due to a news story published by the Women Voices in which junior officers accused police authorities of misusing their Ebola allowances.
After that publication, Helen indicated that she was invited to the Headquarters of the LNP for questioning, a situation that led to her being harassed and intimidated, and was later released after the intervention of the Press Union of Liberia and her legal counselor, Cllr. Syrenius Cephus.
Since then, she said there has been a sour relationship between the LNP and the Women Voices management.
She told reporters that she is prepared to face her accusers in court so as to exonerate herself of all charges levied against her by the UBA and the LNP.