Though still in jail, Joy Ugwu Nnenne, reigning Asaigbo pageant queen, is still as influential as one with ‘royalty’ – the beauty queen has reportedly become a star among fellow inmates at the Kirikiri Prison, Lagos, where she has been remanded by a magistrate court over alleged fraud.
The prisoners refer to her as “Queen”, due to the large number of visitors she played host to daily, while other times she is called “MMM”, an allusion to the charge that brought her to prison.
Saturday Sun on June 17, 2017, reported the case of Joy, the current beauty queen of Asaigbo pageantry, who is on remand in Kirikiri prison for allegedly fleecing Jonathan Nwogu, Anita Oby and others of N7million.
She was alleged to have resorted to hide-and-seek tactics after failing to secure a visa for Nwogu, after the latter reportedly paid a million naira to her. She is also accused of defrauding Oby of N2 million through a ponzi scheme called “Me and You” purportedly floated by the former.
The incarcerated beauty queen gave her side of the story in an exclusive interview when Saturday Sun visited her inside the Kirikiri female prison on Wednesday June 21. Debunking the allegations against her as false, she claimed her traducers, counting on her propensity to protect her social image, were out to intimidate her to quietly pay them and settle the matter.
Affirming her innocence, she emphasised she also lost money to the ponzi scheme, and that is the reason she is emboldened to exercise her civil right in opting for the court after spending three days in the cell at the State Crime Investigation Department, Panti, Yaba.
“I didn’t create the ‘Me and You scheme’, I was just a participant like her (Oby),” she insisted. “Do I look like someone who can do so, when I have not finished studying my Accounting?”
She went on:
“When they told me to pay up, I was reluctant because I didn’t see any crime in the scheme. I can only be guilty if I created the scheme, which I didn’t. I told them that I could only pay back if they try to get the person I paid to, one Emmanuel Madu. I paid him two million naira. I showed them the transfer record, it is a recycled process.”
She pointed out the inconsistency in the charges against her at the court:
“When I got to court, I was arraigned for N2m while I was arrested for a charge of N7m. I intend to battle this when I regain my freedom.”
On the visa fraud charge, her accuser, Nwogu had told Saturday Sun:
“The girl duped me one million naira and the evidence is there…What baffled me was the way she took the matter. It was quite obvious that she defrauded me.”
Joy Ugwu rebutted this as outright lie. On the day I was arrested, I confronted him, asking if he knew me before, but he didn’t. So, how did we do visa business? They were all participants in the Ponzi scheme. He happened to be on the losing side. Oby had vowed that she was going to deal with me if I don’t pay up because she is connected to the high and mighty.”
She went further: “They said something about the money in my account. The money belongs to people and I have paid them back. I don’t have any money to pay anybody.”
Queen among inmates
Being incarcerated did not diminish her. She is still radiant and has even acquired some popularity among the inmates. To both wardress and inmates, she is “Queen”––due to the number of visitors she has daily–– or “MMM”, in reference to the circumstances that brought her into the prison. As she walked away from the reporter, a group of friends crowded around her demanding to know what news she brought from her visitation.
“She is a nice girl. I don’t think anybody has any complaint about her,” an anonymous inmate told Saturday Sun.
Why we won’t dethrone her
Saturday Sun also contacted Mike Akubueze, the organiser of Asaigbo pageantry, for his view on the development.
According to him, as long as she didn’t commit any crime in the name of the pageantry, Joy Nnenne Ugwu would still be paraded as their queen.
According to him:
“What she did was her personal business. She didn’t commit crime with Asaigbo. We are not involved with anything she does with her personal life. She is 18 years. We don’t monitor our queens.”
Also saying her accusers are capitalising on her social status to intimidate her, he said: “Joy didn’t commit any crime. Everybody did MMM, including even me. So, she is entitled to do a personal business.”
He reiterated: “We won’t dethrone her. Until the case is concluded, she is still Asaigbo queen. Even after that, we would undertake our own investigation.”
It is expected that Joy Ugwu will be freed soon since the delay of her bail was due to the absence of the magistrate in charge of her case, who went on a casual leave.