Symbol of justice
By Davidson Iriekpen
Justice James Tsoho of the Federal High Court in Lagos Monday granted the request of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke (SAN), for one Mr. Godwin Chiedo Nzeocha, to be extradited to the United States of America to face criminal charges over an alleged $30 million Health Care Benefit Fund fraud.
Nzeocha, 54, worked with the City Nursing Services in Houston, Texas, US as a Physical Therapist Aide between 2007 and 2009.
In US, he was alleged to have conspired with others and submitted claims worth $45 million to the Medicare and Medicaid for health care services on behalf of some patients who were beneficiaries of the health insurance claims.
Nzeocha and his accomplices were paid $30 million but failed to remit the funds to the beneficiaries.
Consequently, he was dragged before a US District Court in the Southern District of Texas, Houston by the US Department of Justice on October 19, 2009 for offences bordering on conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, money laundering and mail fraud.
Rather than face his trial, Nzeocha fled to Nigeria. In his ruling, Justice Tsoho agreed with the prosecution that the extradition application was competent and that the alleged offences which are the basis of the extradition request are returnable offences.
He therefore ruled that accused be extradited to US to face trial within a period of one month. Nzeocha was arrested in June 2011 by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) following a petition from the Legal Attaché to the US Consular Office, Lagos, on behalf of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Part of his extradition charges read: “Conspiracy to commit health care fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349, carrying penalty on conviction of a fine of up to $250,000, or imprisonment of not more than ten (10) years, or both; supervised released of not more than three years; a special assessment of $100.00 for each convicted offence.”
• Indictment with health care fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1347, carrying penalty on conviction of a fine of up to $250,000, or imprisonment of (10) years, or both; supervised released of not more than three (3) years; and a special assessment of $100.000 for each convicted offence.