Malaysian police have arrested 15 Nigerians in one fell swoop on suspicions of being engaged in the business of swindling people. Of the 15, three are women.
The yet-to-be identified suspects are aged between 25 and 43.
The arrests came as some Nigerians in the country are protesting the death in detention of a Nigerian PhD student and father of two, Thomas Orhionsefe Ewansiha, who reportedly died in immigration custody, after being wrongly arrested by the country’s immigration officers.
The deceased had valid documents to justify his stay in Malaysia, but was arrested during a raid in Amanpuri and was taken to a deportation camp in Jalan Duta where he reportedly died.
The incident has led to a protest at the Nigerian embassy in Malaysia.
It was not clear whether Ewansiha was among the 15 arrested by the Malaysian police between 2 July and 7 July. But Amanpuri is north of Kuala Lumpur, which suggests there must have been multiple raids against Nigerians by the Malay police.
State police chief Datuk Mohamad Mat Yusop said the Nigerians were arrested at separate locations in Port Dickson and Mambau and in Puchong, Selangor.
According to him, the arrests followed the arrest of a 54 year-old Malaysian woman who had allowed one of the Nigerian suspects to use her bank account in a fraud case.
“With the arrests, we have opened 33 investigation papers involving a sum of RM1.5 million nationwide,” he told reporters in Serembam on Wednesday. Serembam is about 70 kms south of Malyasian capital of Kuala Lumpur.
Mohamad said that four of the suspects did not have passports while two were students studying at a private college, the Star newspaper reported.
Nine others were in the country on social visit passes.
“We seized laptops, mobile phones and cash from the suspects. The gadgets have been sent for forensic tests and we expect to see more cases,” he said.
He said the cases were being investigated under Section 420 of the Penal Code for cheating and flouting the Immigration Act.
Mohamad said the Malaysian woman pleaded guilty when charged at the Magistrate’s Court on Monday and fined RM10,000.
However, she was ordered to serve eight months in prison, as she could not come up with the money to pay the fine.
According to The Star, the arrested Nigerians were always on the move, working out of rented apartments, condominiums or houses in reputable residential areas.
Their business was swindling people and for the 15 Nigerian suspects, it came to an abrupt end with their arrests.