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Last Updated: Friday, 30 May, 2003, 16:16 GMT 17:16 UK
Nigerian MP on fraud charges
House of Assembly
Ibekwe is the first legislator arrested for financial crimes
A member of Nigeria's House of Representatives has appeared in court, charged with conning a German businessman out of $350,000.

Morris Ibekwe was arrested on Wednesday by the anti-fraud commission in connection with a so-called "419" scam.

Nigerian conmen have become notorious for duping foreign businessmen into handing over large amounts of money, on the basis that they would receive millions of dollars later on.

President Olusegun Obasanjo, who began his second term on Thursday, has promised to fight corruption but was criticised for not doing enough in his first term.

Re-elected

Nigeria is routinely ranked among the world's most corrupt countries by watchdog Transparency International.

Mr Ibekwe was remanded in custody, along with three other suspects, by a court in Lagos.

The BBC's Bala Ibrahim in Lagos says Mr Ibekwe is the first legislator to be arrested for financial crimes since the return of civilian government in 1999.

He was re-elected as a ruling People's Democratic Party Representative from the southern Imo State in last month's parliamentary elections.

Police sources told Nigeria's Guardian newspaper that he was arrested to stop him taking part in the inauguration of the new legislature.

He allegedly obtained "the sum of $300,000 and 75,000 deutschmarks ($45,000) under false pretence from one Munch Klause, a German national," said a statement from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.




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Nuhu Ribadu of the Financial Crimes Commission
"We intend that our actions will speak for us"



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